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Full text of "The army mule and other war sketches"

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ILLINOIS STATE ^ 
HISTORICAL LIBRARY 



CfNTRAl BOOK STORE 

228 WEST 12:^ ST. 
KANSAS ciTY.Mn 




If he gets loose, he darts through an ambulance or climbs a 
tree, without compunction. But he seldom gets loose (Page 21,) 



THE ARMY MULE 



AND OTHER WAR SKETCHES 



BY 

HENRY A. CASTLE 

Private, Sergeant-Major and Captain Illinois Volunteers 

Past Commander Loyal Legion Commandery of Minnesota 
Past Commander Department of Minnesota G. A. R. 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

J. W. VAWTER 




INDIANAPOLIS AND KANSAS CITY 

THE BOWEN-MERRILL COMPANY 

M DCCC XCVIII 



Copyright, 1897 

BY 

THE BOWEN-MEREILL CO. 



/ 






CONTENTS 

PAGE. 

I. The Army Mule i 

II. The Sutler 91 

III. The Shelter Tent , . . . . 140 

IV. Dress Parade 179 

V, The Boys in Blue Grown Gray . . 21S 



S24?3 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

If he gets loose, he darts through an ambulance or climbs 
a tree, without compunction. But he seldom gets loose 

Frontispiece 

The quenchless, marvelous mule emerges from the mire 
and clay, with a whooping-cough wheeze . . .63 

But likeliest from safe shelter of some commodious, com- 
manding stump, observing the struggle with a rural 
Sunday morning cheerfulness 135 

Blessed is the voluptuousness of reverie, blessed and 
cheap as an expectant clothier's greeting, while he 
pauses ecstatically for an appropriate smile . . . 162 

No two companies have been drilled alike ; no three con- 
secutive soldiers iierform the same antic at the same 
time 212 

The veterans quietly gathered in the voluntary and in- 
voluntary honors .... One state points with 
pride to her nine soldier governors, and of seven presi- 
dents elected since the close of the war, six were ex- 
soldiers 230 



I hail thee Brother — spite of the fool's scorn! 

And fain would take thee with me, in the dell 

Of peace and mild Equality to dwell, 

Where Toil shall call the charmer Health his bride, 

And Laughter tickle Plenty's ribless side! 

How thou wouldst toss thj heels in gamesome play, 

And frisk about, as lamb or kitten gay! 

Yea! and more musically sweet to me 

Thy dissonant harsh bray of joy would be. 

Than warbled melodies that soothe to rest 

The aching of pale Fashion's vacant breast! 

— Coleridge. 



THE ARMY MULE 




HE longevity of the Mule 
is proverbial. He lives 
on and on, until his origin 
. becomes a musty myth, 
and age erects a tumor 
on his brow which betok- 
ens superb development 
of spirituality. The endurance of a halluci- 
nation is perhaps greater still. Our civil war 
closed more than thirty years ago. The 
Mules employed in the army are mostly dead 
— not so the hallucinations. These still linger, 
picturesque but fatiguing. There still survives 
in every northern town and village at least one 
man who habitually asserts, who is willing to 
verify by afifidavit, worst of all, who stead- 



THE ARMY MULE 

fastly believes, that he put down the rebellion. 

The Mules are not supposed to have un- 
derstood the war, and consequently can not 
be expected to hold themselves responsible 
for its results. But the man of distorted per- 
spective, who measures the circumference of 
the universe by the diameter of his own ego- 
tism, shrinks from no exaltation and shirks 
no responsibility. He is festooned with self- 
complacency, wearing always a fourteenth 
century smile of content. 

Controversy is welcome to him, as the ad- 
vent of a bloomer woman to a social purity 
club. He relishes argument and he loves to 
boast. He can readily maintain that his side 
was eternally right and the other side infern- 
ally wrong in the war, for that fact is begin- 
ning to be somewhat widely accepted. To 
establish his own feats is somewhat more 
difficult, whether he sing like Miriam or 
howl like Jeremiah in narrating them. But 
he will cheerfully spend a week in marching 
one of his deeds past a given point, and 
skeptics soon discover that it is cheaper to 
feed him than to fight him. He may be 
2 



THE ARMY MULE 

an ex-major-general, or possibly an ex-team- 
ster. Sometimes he is an ex-corporal, 
mellow as those autumnal days when the 
golden glory of the sassafras vies with the 
persimmon's gaudy crimson. Oftenest per- 
haps he is an ex-captain, for does not every 
war evolve the greatest captain of the age as 
its ultimate hero? He may now pass for a 
respectable citizen, with houses to let and 
money to burn, who rashly trusts to his 
imagination when his memory is out of focus, 
and lets the bloody chasm go on yawning for 
more gore. 

More likely, however, he carries his real 
estate as well as his religion in his wife's 
name, fully persuaded that a rolling stone 
gathers no moss but grinds exceeding fine, 
razors and tomahawks included. In any 
event he is a mighty talker before the crowd, 
bristling with home thrusts that give out a 
sizzling sound and an odor of roast owl. He 
is a Chimborazo of noise with an ant-hill of 
achievement to back it; a miracle of linked 
hallucinations ludicrously elongated ; an ex- 
tinct incandescent carbon belching black 
3 



THE ARMY MULE 

smoke. His sole claim to mention in con- 
nection with the useful, unpretentious Mule, 
is the purely accidental' circumstance of their 
simultaneous military service. He has no 
other title to consideration in this important 
historical episode. 

He is not a typical old soldier, and must 
not be so classified. He is an exception. 
When tests are to be applied he can always 
prove an alibi. His mouth was put on soft 
and spread ; the flush on his nose was ac- 
quired at a great expenditure of time and 
money. He comes to the front in his com- 
munity, sage of the flannel lip and velvet eye, 
in accordance with a known law that not al- 
ways the ablest men are heard, but always 
the ablest to be heard. He comes to the 
front with the persistence of a pardoned an- 
archist, and the flawless joy of a yearling 
who has maxed in math. 

Meantime it is one of the everlasting veri- 
ties that in hands of men "entirely" great, 
the calligraph is mightier than the bludgeon. 
Shall calligraphs stand dumb and the story 
of days when God shook the nation until her 
4 



THE ARMY MULE 

lakes foamed over their pebbly shores and 
her rivers gurgled with bloody ebullition 
remain unwrit, in fear of probing blow-holes 
in the record of some grand snark in the con- 
catenated order of hoo hoos? Shall poster- 
ity be given over to moral mushiness, lest 
some village Goliath of Gath, prone to such 
nightly exhilaration of spirits as ends in los- 
ing the combination of adjacent streets, get 
shrunken into shreds of paper-rag, brain-web 
and vapor? 

Historians of the war have minutely nar- 
rated its grand events — events which rising 
generations are already reproaching them- 
selves for coming too late to engage in, being 
relegated to their own nerveless annals pen- 
ciled on the segment of a film. Most classes 
of participants in these events have been 
heard from. Either in plain narrative or 
wrathful controversy they have ventured an 
enormous consumption of time and eternity. 
Whether their anger be a dynamite shell or a 
soap-bubble, its vocalization is uniformly ter- 
rific. The generals and the majors; the 
teamsters and the staff; even the drafted 
5 



THE ARMY MULE 

men and substitutes, unstable as the heroine 
who vowed at first that she would never con- 
sent, and then relented — all these have spok- 
en or can speak for themselves. Majestically 
muscled around the mouth, staunchly nerved 
in the cheek, they need no rhetorical proxy. 
Since history has accepted most of their aver- 
ments, they modestly consider themselves 
endorsed. 

There are other classes of participants who 
must be spoken for — their merits have not 
yet become the theme of tropical, topical 
songs. The speechless toilers of the conflict, 
half horse, half devil, half donkey, stand high 
on the list of those who should not be forgot- 
ten. We may fling flash-lights of inspection 
all around the black horizon of war and find 
no greater faithfulness, not even in Israel. 

Under the cadence of march, murmur of 
camp, clangor of battle and reverberating 
paeans of victory, rumbles the ground tone of 
all war's harmonies, the deep contra basso of 
a melodious bray, reminding us that justice 
remains yet to be done to the instrument 
which made campaigns successful and battles 
6 



THE ARMY MULE 

possible. It is an instrument to which due 
credit has never been given, yet which is in- 
finitely more credit-worthy than many of the 
boasters, "ablest to be heard," who make 
the cackle of their villages noxious to man- 
kind. 

That instrument is the Army Mule ! Let 
him who hath ears to hear lend them now to 
a belated attempt at vindication. Let the 
man of prejudice disinfect his mind and lis- 
ten. It is naught, saith the buyer, then go- 
eth his way and boasteth ; but an ad valorem 
tax on dudes has never been made to yield 
any revenue. 

The name of the original inventor of the 
Mule is lost in the immemorial mists. Al- 
though, as hereinbefore intimated, his lon- 
gevity is a chestnut as old as the Morse al- 
phabet, or older, his nativity is still a conun- 
drum. No Mule's teeth, with or without 
gold filling, glisten among shells of the plio- 
cene period. No Mule elevates his afterdeck 
in the granitic formations. None of his petri- 
fied footprints are discernible in those ante- 
glacial basins where Afric's sunny fountains 
7 



THE ARMY MULE 

now sprinkle her shirtless swarms. Hence, 
although he possibly antedates all living apos- 
tles of lady suffrage, he is presumably not a 
pre- Adamite. Perhaps his first discoverer 
was "that Anah " who, to his astonishment, 
* ' found Mules in the wilderness, ' ' where 
donkeys had been browsing, etc. See Gene- 
sis xxxvi, 24. It is not permissible to go be- 
hind the returns What we know is that he 
was introduced to the American people by 
anticipation, that is to say, through his pater- 
nal ancestor, by G. Washington, Esq., of 
Mount Vernon in Virginia. 

Much sarcasm, variegated as Paris green 
jealousy and red precipitate wrath could dye 
it, has been expended on this delicate matter 
of the Mule's paternal ancestry. Among 
other spiteful things it has been averred that 
like certain party organizations he has no 
more ground for pride of descent than he has 
for hope of posterity. Let us promptly con- 
cede the validity of the averment. Argue 
not with one steeped in kerosene and other 
fire-waters; matters look ominous when a 
disputant opens the discussion with foam on 
8 



THE ARMY MULE 

his teeth and noises in his nostril. Fill blanks 
as to name of party by majority vote of those 
present, and let the proceedings proceed. 

It is doubtless true that the speechless, un- 
speakable Mule, seldom troubles himself about 
his heirs, executors or administrators. Why 
should he? He is a monstrosity, physical and 
metaphysical ; the ne plus ultra, the " nothing 
beyond" of his species. Besides, he has little 
of value to bequeath; he is a disinherited 
prodigal, with champagne tastes and a root 
beer revenue, digesting his diet of wild oats; 
his assets would scarcely overbalance those of 
a disbanded Uncle Tom troupe — one blood 
hound, one death-bed, and two cakes of imi- 
tation ice. Moreover, truth to tell, he is 
probably in no special haste to die. This 
amiable weakness is shared by certain of our 
own race. 

A hypercritical Boston lady, mistress of 
the mysteries of nine idioms and five kinds 
of angel cake, was heard to declare that she 
would rather not die at all than be buried 
anywhere outside Mount Auburn. 

The speechless, discredited Mule, born old, 
2 9 



THE ARMY MULE 

wise and fuzzy, has little to thank his paternal 
ancestors for, save phenomenal ears that not 
even a lion's skin can hide, as witness ^Esop, 
and a phenomenal voice that no lion's roar 
can drown. Both these heritages were pre- 
ordained for grand service in an epoch when 
war should gnash loud her iron fangs, and 
shake her crest of bristling bayonets. Vouch- 
safe unto the male line gratitude for little else. 
But as for the female line, who knows? Pos- 
sibly it runs back to ' ' Araby the blest, ' ' 
where horse pedigrees are cherished like a 
Connecticut coffee pot, until they fade into 
genealogical perspectives . Such perspectives , 
for example, as make the fine art of heraldic 
blazonry, frescoing and retouching precious 
to the British nobility — some of whom, by 
the way, have much less cause than the 
nameless, unblamable Mule, to canonize the 
low-neck and short-sleeve branch of their 
lineage. 

Although we do not know precisely who 

invented the Mule, it must be obvious that he 

is not a historical tenderfoot. He is not a 

mere ephemeral product of the county fair 

lO 



THE ARMY MULE 

season, when alleged acrobats with leaky- 
balloons monopolize the casualty columns. 
Neither is he one of those picturesque guber- 
natorial giraffes of the populist era, who come 
unwanted and go unwept. 

Notwithstanding the fact that he is neces- 
sarily renewed with each generation, he be- 
longs to an old family — one, in fact, fairly 
rancid with antiquity. He was the uncon- 
sidered drudge of the hoariest ancients, in 
those days when the average human heart 
could be readily split up for floor tiles. He 
had been promoted thence to the rank of mail 
carrier as long ago as when Mordecai the Jew 
"sent letters by riders on Mules " from Baby- 
lon, after the king had turned the rascals out 
with a promptness that compelled the admira- 
tion of every taxpayer. 

He was bestridden by sprigs of royalty as 
long ago as when Absolom the lengthy- 
locked rode under the boughs of a great 
oak, wherein his hair became entangled, 
"and the Mule that was under him went 
away," — thus sayeth the Scriptures! Un- 
speakable Mule, fraught with immeasurable 
II 



THE ARMY MULE 

destinies! Had he stood until great David's 
shear-bearers could come up and cut loose 
the best-beloved, the M^hole current of Israel's 
history might have changed, saving vast re- 
search to the modern sensational divine work- 
ing a heresy advertisement for all there is in 
it. Solomon, next-beloved, might never have 
reigned ; his superfluous seven hundred wives 
and his indispensable three hundred concu- 
bines, with their lissome, lightsome round of 
free hand riots, internal and interminable, 
might never have been accumulated ; neither 
seen the sparkle of his three thousand pro- 
verbs, nor heard the ripple of his songs a 
thousand and five. 

It is thus manifest that although this inter- 
esting hybrid is virtually an afterthought, he 
is not one of those later-day improvements in 
a chronic state of apology. This is authentic. 
It is also reassuring to such typical, repre- 
sentative citizens weighing three hundred 
pounds each as still have misgivings. Had 
the speechless unspeakable Mule been simply 
an unperfected modern invention in the rough, 
his hair not yet dry, his effectiveness and 

12 



LHE ARMY MULE 

hope of glory would have been greatly les- 
sened. The surviving boasters "ablest to be 
heard" now on grassy village streets, with 
two million major-generals, colonels, first ser- 
geants and other soldiers, might never have 
been able to suppress the most causeless and 
wicked rebellion ever waged by an army of 
barefooted chevaliers, fed on corn meal, spo- 
radic acid and gunpowder, always in light 
marching order. N. B. They were always 
in hard fighting order likewise, since by an 
eternal law increment of bile is superinduced 
by shrinkage of commissariat. 

Almost any mediocre can compile a mass 
of information from the cyclopedia. Even 
the vague enthusiast who goes through the 
world wearing an air of crushed strawberry 
resignation on his face and shaking hands 
with one finger can do that. But it is not 
the desideratum in a matter of this sort. 

People prefer to see things step out with 
stereoscopic rotundity. Like the juvenile 
Lochinvar, they stay not for stone and stop 
not for air brakes. They demand the de- 
centralization of apothegms. They desire 
13 



THE ARMY MULE 

sculpture from a diisel that, ignoring down 
and dimple, cuts thought and carves breath 
from the marble, without risk of challenge for 
implied bias. In the absence of stone-cutters, 
let a cyclopedia furnish from its cold-storage 
vaults some preliminary fundamentals. If 
they be plain, ascertainable, intelligible state- 
ments of fact, clothed in tights as it were, 
devoid of frills and amplifications, so much 
the better — and briefer! I quote: 

' ' The Mule seems to excel both its ances- 
tral species in natural intelligence. It is re- 
markable for its powers of muscular endur- 
ance. Its sure-footedness particularly adapts 
it to mountainous countries. It has been 
common from very ancient times in many 
parts of the East, and is much used, also, in 
most of the countries around the Mediterra- 
nean Sea, and in the mountainous parts of 
South America. Great care is bestowed on 
the breeding of Mules in Spain and Italy, and 
those of particular districts are highly es- 
teemed. In ancient times the sons of kings 
rode on Mules, and they were yoked in char- 
iots. They are still used to draw the car- 
14 



THE ARMY MULE 

riages of Italian cardinals and other ecclesias- 
tical dignitaries." 

And more to the same effect. 

We respectfully submit that here is a well- 
buttressed certificate of character which fully 
justified the government in assigning to this 
useful equine mulatto the important function 
he performed in putting down the rebellion. 

The average American Mule has not the 
soft fur, fine as dressed seal-skin and smooth 
as coffin varnish, nor the rich shades of color- 
ing, worn by his pampered kinfolk of Spain 
or Cyprus or Smyrna. As to skin, he was, 
habitually, neither soft nor shining, he was 
simply tough. As to color, his muzzle was 
always whitish, as if fresh from a meal-tub, 
but otherwise he was more various than de- 
lectable, sometimes yellow, sometimes dun, 
sometimes sorrel, but oftenest darkly, deeply, 
beautifully bay. Second cousin to the New 
Mexican burro, but happily guiltless of any 
traceable relationship to the disreputable 
Texas mustang, his aspect was liable to be 
as one-sided as a Louisiana riot — seventeen 



15 



THE ARMY MULE 

negroes killed and one white man slightly- 
wounded. 

But texture and color apart, the harmless, 
unspeakable servitor of our march and camp 
was doubtless peer of any the effete monarch- 
ies of Europe or the East can boast. He 
had no overplus of style about him, but he 
was reliable, he was sincere, his muscularity 
was conceded by all. His facial angle was a 
convex curve, which somewhat impaired his 
beauty, but not his utility. Some knew him 
who did not love him ; few named him ex- 
cept to praise after a reasonable acquaintance. 
His air of innocent gravity was sometimes 
mistaken for stupidity — most inexcusable and 
fatal error ! He could look as imbecile as a 
rustic fop playing " Glory Hallelujah " on an 
accordeon. He could look as guileless as the 
youth who murdered his own father and 
mother and then begged the judge to have 
mercy on a poor orphan. He could look as 
soulful as a law clerk summing up to a jury 
of one with his arm around it. He could 
look as sober as though his whole intellect 
were grinding on the plus and minus of some 
i6 



THE ARMY MULE 

unsolved problem, like that for example 
which the Book of Mormon and Mohammed's 
Koran and Clark's Commentaries, with all 
their attention to detail, have neglected, 
whether Aaron's golden calf was a Holstein 
or a Jersey. 

Sleepy or asleep he may have seemed, but 
let some small darkey imp of mischief tweak 
his patient ear, then note how swiftly that 
magnetic hoof will lift the tweaker to a 
pearly seat amidst the celestial cherubim — 
direct and speedy circuit of nerve-telephone 
here manifest, without the intervention of any 
dilatory central office. His drooping lids 
were thus but the token of a measureless con- 
tent, which craved not the mere bric-a-brac 
and gumdrops of existence. But it was lia- 
ble to shift its specific gravity, if any misfit 
perfume came between the wind and his no- 
bility, and explode in a sudden touch-and-go 
style, rocket-like, trigger-like, flashing. 

He could smile like a heavenly blessing. 

His expressive yawn was widely eminent; 

without it no Mule was genuine. His bray, 

opening clear and sonorous, like the report of 

17 



THE ARMY MULE 

a judiciary committee, rapidly shaded off into 
a succession of disembodied shrieks and dis- 
emboweled groans, that sent thrills of suicidal 
delirium through all the encircling camps. 
No further seek his general merits to disclose. 
They developed constantly on the sensitive 
plate of our regard, and we have waited long 
for somebody to take off a blue-print of his 
ground plan and front elevation. The pos- 
sessor of many virtues, poor but honest, with 
a large circulation but small political influence, 
sagacious and serene he stood, thick of head, 
tough of hide, hard of heel, the proffered 
hero of the expressive army shibboleth, 
" Here's your Mule." 

The plutonic, speechless quadruped. Mule, 
like the platonic featherless biped, man, after 
being inspected on the hoof, was obliged to 
graduate through the three military degrees 
of Recruit, Soldier and Veteran. 

We all remember those recruiting days ; 
those first companies of picked men, mostly 
picked before they were ripe; when the fray 
was curtained behind song and hurrah, the 
cataract obscured by the rainbow. Who can 



THE ARMY MULE 

forget the wrathful buzz and ferment, the 
wild tossing and writhing and moaning of an 
aroused people ; the fierce uprising ; the keen 
razor-edge of fervor. Then the enrolling and 
drilling and marching and evoluting in the 
moonlit squares and streets ; the nocturnal 
visitations, with fife and drum, to the veran- 
das of oratorical patriots for a "night-cap" 
of glowing speech, alternated with raids on 
suspected disloyalists to demand the prompt 
uphoisting of the star spangled, banner. 
Saxon and Norman and Dane were we, or 
Celt or Teuton in birth or descent, but all of 
us then crystallized in the alembic of patriot- 
ism into the first generation of unadulterated 
Americans. 

To the blasphemous challenge of secession, 
our young men, fully advised of the exceed- 
ing preciousness of life and yet thoroughly 
instructed how to dare and die, hurled back 
deathless daring and defiance. Their eyes, 
fixed on their idealized leaders, shining like 
white statues amid the black wreckage of re- 
bellion, they marched into the flaming vortex 



t9 



THE ARMY MULE 

with new, strange implements in their hands 
and " hot unutterabilities in their hearts." 

These were the boys of '6i, the raw re- 
cruits of the dawning conflict. With them 
went the memory of the girls they left behind 
them, many of whom were afterwards lost in 
the shuffle. But the memory, then infinitely 
sweet, was hourly refreshed by a contempla- 
tion of the tangible Testament and pin-cushion. 
With them went the toe-ache of tight boots, 
earthly, sensual, devilish, and a flushed con- 
sciousness, even when drilling in the awkward 
squad, that the eyes of the universe were 
upon them. With them also, or following 
them, or mayhap meeting them in the dreamy 
borderland of Kentucky or Missouri to which 
he is fortuitously indigenous, went the harm- 
less, necessary Mule. 

He was a child of wrath, with a throat for 
melody spacious as the funnel of a cyclone ; 
with dexter and sinister ears of renown ; with 
eyes foxy but sad, and saddest when he sang. 
He carried with him the appetite of a Chip- 
pewa maiden clad in cavalry trowsers and a 
tentfly; also an inherited capacity to stand 
20 



THE ARMY MULE 

indefinitely on one foot and kick vehemently 
with all the others. He was reliable as 
grandfather's clock and prompt as the rail- 
way mail service. He was under a recogni- 
zance to support the constitution of the 
United States, and stamp out the Confeder- 
acy to the best of his ability. 

He was a raw recruit likewise. When men 
were beating the wrong way their plowshares 
into swords, he was out of a job on a dull 
labor market and could the better be spared. 
How much of the issues and principles at 
stake his comprehensive intelligence intelli- 
gently comprehended will perhaps never be 
known. He did not attend crowded war 
meetings in country school-houses and waste 
his rhetoric on the fetid air. It may fairly be 
surmised, however, that he knew better than 
any northern croaker the futility of trying to 
repossess our surrendered fortresses with writs 
of replevin ; knew better than any southern 
fire-eater the folly of attempting to build up 
a republic with a live negro wriggling under 
the corner-stone; knew and would gladly 
have proclaimed, that no lapse of slip-shod 



THE ARMY MULE 

years, no hoariness of unchallenged usage, no 
deftest hammerings of forensic sophistry can 
ever fashion a vested right out of a ragged 
wrong. 

At all events, whether wittingly or willingly 
or neither, he became as potent a factor in 
the situation militant as when Samson slew 
a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of 
one of his remote ancestors. He wheeled 
into line useful, ubiquitous, proud as a de- 
ceased Connemarran with a solid silver door- 
plate on his pearl-plush casket, blazoning his 
immortal virtues — also quite numerous. A 
total of 450,000 mules and 650,000 horses 
served in the various armies. In 1864, the 
forces actually in the field required for artil- 
lery, cavalry and trains one-half as many ani- 
mals as there were soldiers. 

As a recruit, the Mule soon became an ob- 
ject of usurious rates of interest and concen- 
trated curiosity. He was a drawing card, a 
veritable bargain counter or church scandal 
in his tractile powers. His fame had pre- 
ceded him, and his name was a potent talis- 
man for conjuring ecstatic assemblages. His 
22 



THE ARMY MULE 

name pronounced, the sensation seekers gath- 
ered, as in the manipulation of complicated 
governmental machinery congress touches the 
button, and the department clerks do the 
rest, subject to approval of the salary and al- 
lowance division. Haled in, unhaltered, from 
amid the frisking bluegrass felicities of his 
pasture primeval, with his tail full of burs 
and his gaze full of vinegar, the details of his 
primary instruction were, as a rule, full of 
activity and enthusiasm. 

In mischievous impulse he is fertile as those 
human scalps which raise hair enough for home 
consumption, and send a surplus to market 
twice a year. His venturesome instructors 
are wise if they make their testamentary dis- 
positions in advance, and provide abundant 
bandages and plasters, with blank coupons or 
certified checks attached to provide for extra 
dividends. One out-thrust of his right front 
foot has been known to reduce a newly uni- 
formed soldier to a state of nudity from his 
napless crown to his callous sole, with inci- 
dental contusions of flesh and abrasions of 
cuticle too hideous for contemplation 
23 



THE ARMY MULE 

Enmeshed in surreptitious cordage, the 
speechless, untamed quadruped is thrown to 
the cold, cold ground, where, for a time, he 
writhes and struggles, a cheveatix-de-frise of 
black, gyrating hoofs. If he gets loose, he 
darts through an ambulance or climbs a tree 
without compunction. But he seldom gets 
loose. When his first wild anger has been 
measurably spent and the mercury in him has 
gone down to the bulb, five or six bow-legged 
hirelings of the quartermaster's bureau, with 
waffle-iron cast of countenance born of small- 
pox, simultaneously proceed to administer 
disjointed sections of harness to the exterior 
of that noble form. 

Puck might girdle the earth for forty cents, 
but he could earn forty dollars in girthing a 
cadet Mule. With each contact of strap or 
buckle the white of his eye gleams poison- 
ously and his outraged epidermis gives a sud- 
den convulsive shudder, like a fine lady's bare 
shoulder vitalized by a mosquito-bite. But he 
is helpless and supine as a fat alderman after 
a banquet, lying stomach upwards and feebly 
gesticulating with his heels. With the final 
24 



THE ARMY MULE 

linking together of the detached tackle into 
one engirdling gearage, the first step in his 
humiliation is completed, and the pantings of 
his suppressed fury mingle with the chokings 
of his self-contempt. From that hour he is 
a changed Mule. Man delights him not, nor 
small boys either. Straps leave invisible, 
indelible marks of servitude, as a blow from 
a parent leaves a scar on the soul of the 
child. Harnessed and humiliated, abased and 
abashed, the higher regions of pride and in- 
dependence wherein he has pranced with all 
the lofty grace of a thoroughbred, know him 
no more forever. Mirabeau had swallowed 
all formulas. The Mule recruit has swallowed 
all traditions, foretaste of much else, good 
and bad, he will be obliged to swallow, — but 
the bridle-bit, of all fabricated things, alas! 
he can not swallow. 

In this clinging, clanking harness-toggery 
cribbed and confined, he is led out to where 
five shamefaced fellow-martyrs wait to en- 
dure with him the culminating indignity. 
The Mule units are now to be transmuted into 
a Mule team, for the glory of Yankee Doodle, 

3 25 



THE ARMY MULE 

and an entirely novel programme of acro- 
batic marvels is to be enacted. 

No sooner have the predestined six been, 
with infinite patience and circumspection, 
aligned and coupled and to the monstrous 
vehicle deftly attached, than down they all 
go in a heap, a rolling, plunging mass of of- 
fensive partisanship, in one dusty burial blent. 
Entangled, prostrate, writhing like a coil of 
rattlesnakes; each eager nose, and active 
heel, and tufted tail, points all ways at once, 
like a mariner's needle in a thunder-storm. 
In this tumbling, tearing glomer a philoso- 
pher might presciently discern the symbol 
and essence of anarchy, the spirit of centrifu- 
gality, the revolt against status quo, the pro- 
test of energetic natures against human gov- 
ernment, or self-government, or any other 
government. 

It may confidently be averred that from all 
vital chaos a new lathed and plastered order 
is ever shaping itself and emerging ; this is as 
certain as that everybody is greater than any- 
body, and that discipline is always brought 
forth by a Caesarian operation from anarchy. 
26 



THE ARMY MULE 

So from this sour animal effervescence of in- 
surrection miraculously unravels at last, scath- 
less and satisfied, a melancholy sextette of 
curbed and baffled penitents. They are awk- 
ward, divergent, unassimilated, to begin with, 
and must be pounded and kicked and cursed 
into homogeneity later on, but they are up- 
roariously recalcitrant thenceforth never more. 

The Mule recruit has thus rapidly developed 
into the Mule soldier. He has been sum- 
marily mustered in, with a rope around his 
lower lip rasping it to rawness, but without 
any very searching inquiries as to his uncer- 
tain age, his wholly immaterial sex, his 
superfluous name, or his complicated social 
status. 

He has been blacksmithed as to hoof 
(much against his will), and veterinaried as 
to shoulder. He must now march forth in 
the name of the Union and emancipation, but 
must first be introduced to his commander — 
and so must you, my beloved. Ye who have 
blushes to blush for your species, prepare to 
blush them now, and then proceed to bury 
Caesar, not to praise him. 
27 



THE ARMY MULE 

The army teamster may be safely diagnosed 
as a chronic malady of war times. With such 
rare and radiant exceptions as the immortal 
nominee of the Seattle caucus, who carried a 
hare-lip and a pure heart, he was a pestilent 
metaplasm. He was a product of heteroge- 
neous aggregation and the survival of misfits. 
His status was fixed in earliest infancy; when 
he was vaccinated, the doctor is suspected of 
having thrown away the child and saved the 
virus capsule. He professed no patriotism ; 
he pretended to no bravery; he cherished no 
martial ambitions. He had no desire to fight. 
There was no need of an order to show cause 
why a temporary injunction should not issue 
restraining him from carnage. 

When his slim sweetheart, the dove-eyed, 
flat-chested maiden at Onion creek, a stut- 
tering siren to be courted only on the in- 
stallment plan, sent him to the field, it was 
with full assurance that he was not lost to 
her forever — not he! The corn-fed, lank 
Delilah shrewdly guessed that her prudent 
wooer would listen to battle's dissonant 
thunders from posts of distant security, and 
28 



THE ARMY MULE 

come back unshot, unsabred, but covered 
with vicarious glory, which he did. Heaven 
is merciful to the idiotic and kind to the cau- 
tious. His previous occupations had varied 
from cord-wood carpentry to slaughter-house 
surgery, and he had always been disposed to 
shed perspiration with extreme diffidence. 
He was mostly red-headed. He had been 
addicted to excess of raw spirits, tobacco and 
other abominations — loving these, his enemies, 
with a fine, magnanimous, scriptural. discrim- 
ination. He may be relied on to fill a drunk- 
ard's grave some day, probably without even 
asking the drunkard's permission; such are 
his knavish proclivities. His eye was aglare 
with hate, every glance a stab. His occa- 
sional smile ran through all the gamut of 
grins, from the smirk of conceit to the simper 
of toadyism. He had a torpid liver and was 
no trustee of beauty. His physical develop- 
ment was surprising; even an Englishman 
never saw anything equal to it — outside of 
England. He was strong as the Kansas 
zephyr that carried an anvil ten miles and 
came back next morning after the hammer. 
29 



THE ARMY MULE 

Freckles were his trade-mark and profanity 
was the staunch, infallible test of his identity. 
Huge quadrilateral oaths, shingled with brim- 
stone and fringed with fire, were the soft re- 
laxations of his happier hours. Blue, blister- 
ing maledictions, flecked with white foam, 
marked the approach of his paroxysmal fren- 
zies, and no postponement on account of the 
weather. 

Cruelty uncloaked and unleavened, lumpy 
and rocky, was the energizing motor of his 
existence. Before he gets three strides into 
his gait, his antiphlogistic treatment always 
insures a dispersion of the Mule's vitality 
into the extremeties — hence those kicks. 
His vocabulary was a slimy ooze of the gut- 
ter, with its wailing stench. His breath was 
the whiff of loose-corked, all-night gin shops, 
stale and stifling. His typical caress to the 
Mule was a blow on the bone of the nose with 
a neck yoke that settled the animal on his 
haunches. With a heart false as a weather 
bulletin, more selfish than a petroleum trust, 
and colder than a funeral with plenty of 
money and no God in it, his advent might 
30 



THE ARMY MULE 

readily portend that direful apocalyptic se- 
quence : Death on the pale horse and hell 
not far behind. He was generally hare-lipped. 

To the tender mercies of this losel vile were 
committed by the decrees of inscrutable fate 
the career and destiny of the speechless, un- 
decipherable Mule, who was often simulta- 
neously off his feed and on to his driver. 
He may have been an unattractive, non-mag- 
netic quadruped, a ragged hammerhead, with 
a wall eye and an amputated ear ; with yellow, 
irregular teeth and a surplus of lip. But his 
redeeming features were sure to be disclosed 
in the end. The current acceptation of the 
normal order of things in civil life was no 
criterion here ; there would be scant toleration 
for the methodical youth who indorsed his 
sweetheart's first love-letter " Exhibit A." 

Ordinarily, when man, a little lower than the 
angels, bestrides a Mule unquestionably pos- 
sessed of the devil, he starts on a basalt road 
to perdition, safe to arrive. Swift as a com- 
muter's kiss at the ferry gang-plank might be 
expected the direful finale. But in this 
zigzag of military contradictions things are 
31 



THE ARMY MULE 

reversed . The man and the beast have changed 
places. The semi-seraph and brevet horse 
have been subjected to a mysterious trans- 
formation of functions, and gravitation working 
t'other way Hfts things skyward, as it were. 
The man sinks ; the animal soars — thrusting 
his jaw out sidewise in a satisfied yawn, se- 
cure in the serenity of his asininity. 

By sin pneumonia came into the world, and 
the docile aboriginal, with dilapidated under- 
garments, or none, became a shining mark. 
The honest, intelligent Mule restores an equi- 
librium of virtue lost through his depraved 
and dissolute driver. The virtues of the Mule 
atone for the vices of the man. He raises the 
average of merit and sum total of achieve- 
ment, so that credit for their joint share in the 
grand climacteric will be as enduring as the 
solemn temples, the great globe itself. 

Man approximated to the Mule ideal of 
gentility when he began to suspect that the 
entire system of army team discipline rested 
on a false basis. But that suspicion had not 
dawned at the close of the war for the sup- 
pression of the rebellion — if, indeed, it has 
32 



THE ARMY MULE 

yet dawned. The platform of the Mule mil- 
lennial : Six quarts of oats at a feed ; a 
blanket; two curry-combs of assorted fine- 
ness ; no spurs ; no whip ; no cursing — this 
was a dim vision of futurity ; alluring but 
delusive as the seductive rustle of grain in a 
tin pan, with the ensnaring halter deftly hid- 
den. 

Fortunately for the Mule his epidermis was 
thick and tough, a non-conductor of pain, as 
it were ; fortunately for his flagitious, torment- 
or, likewise for other glowing lights of genus 
human, he was speechless. If the Mule could 
talk ! What new aspects would be given to 
war-memoirs ; what side-gleams would be 
thrown on historic events ; what showers and 
floods of reinforcement would be added to 
the gurgling, vasty streams of patriotic rem- 
iniscence. He had his opinions on the con- 
duct of the war, and on the character of the 
warriors, also the teamsters ; but those opin- 
ions remain unrecorded and to all intents and 
purposes unexpressed. He reserved them, 
which would be deliciously sweet of him, 



33 



THE ARMY MULE 

don't you know, if it had not been involun- 
tary and unavoidable. 

Out in Oregon, apples grow to the diame- 
ter of Daniel Webster's skull, though with 
diluted flavor and contradictory aromas, it is 
claimed ; but the inefficiently tutored Sho- 
shone nevertheless affects his dejeuner of de- 
cayed salmon whose aroma is indisputable 
and widely permeative. Arizona, latitude 
some hundreds of feet below the sea level, 
offers a splendid climate in exceptionally 
large quantities, where the insidious and ter- 
rible tubercle is unknown ; but some of her 
citizens are accused of entertaining loose 
opinions as to the strict enforcement of law, 
and low, coarse views of the editorial func- 
tion. 

At Spuyten-Duyvel-on-Hudson, the local 
four hundred, exploiting the astrakhan hair 
and chinchilla whiskers inherited from a fused 
Iroquois and Rotterdam ancestry, can only be 
coaxed into activity by an elaborate expendi- 
ture of stimulants ; then, however, they will 
very cheerfully pump you full of sententious 
legendary lore while you wait. In Rhode 
34 



THE ARMY MULE 

Island, walk under the mistletoe with a young 
lady and tradition will do the rest. In Chi- 
cago, hand an attractive widow out of a cable 
car, and gossips will supply all necessary ad- 
ditional ingredients for a five-column sensa- 
tion. Thus every locality has its advantages 
and its drawbacks, its vexations and its com- 
pensations. By parallel lines of illustration 
it may be demonstrated that what the Mule 
lacks in volubility he fully makes up in sa- 
gaciousness. 

The capacity of this observant, discrimi- 
nating animal to sit in judgment on the char- 
acter of his stridulous driver can scarcely be 
subject to reasonable question. The judicial 
cast of intellect is so universally associated 
with solemnity of visage that the terms be- 
come substantially interconvertible, like the 
principles of a polished politician. When 
the Army Mule lowers his head and lifts his 
eyebrows and searches profoundly through 
his stable litter with his deliberative hoof, the 
rich trolley-line tenor of his tuneful medita- 
tions were worth a royal largess to read, as- 
similate and store away for reference. 
35 



THE ARMY MULE 

The animated dialogue between a truckman 
and a cab driver in a New York street blockade 
is said to embody linguistic traits and miracles 
of lexicography peculiar to the atmosphere 
of that latitude. The murmurings of a town 
that is stricken with paralysis at the first inti- 
mations of a whisky famine, are marvelously 
intense and realistic. But the Army Mule's 
honest and unbiased opinion as to the true 
character of the army teamster, translated 
from his equi-asinine vernacular, and rendered 
into the anglo-effervescent jargon of the biv- 
ouac, would rattle like a regimental long-roll 
and yield aroma rivaling the effluvium of a 
lime-kiln. His reprobate tormentor, with no 
perceptible circulation of blood above the 
ears, presents multiplied testimonials of hav- 
ing long been habitually fed on aqua-fortis, 
hell-broth and ratsbane. Yet he reveals a 
cruel coldness that would freeze the milk in a 
mother's wasted breast or the marrow in her 
infant's fleshless bones. Hideous as is his 
chimpanzee conformation of countenance in- 
herited from root-eating ancestors, it only in- 
dexes his whole physical structure — a sour 
36 



THE ARMY MULE 

aggregation of compost, vitalized by a fetid 
protoplasm. Within his Nova Zembla skull 
the pulpy and mysterious growth called brain 
lies fusty and fumid, steeped in the vapidity of 
its own purulence. 

Offspring of the exiled offal and offscour- 
ings of civilization, he grew up in the back 
settlements untaught, untrained, unkempt, 
unchristened — not even vaccinated or mani- 
cured ; and the unwholesomeness of his ex- 
halations vie with the complexities of his vo- 
cabulary. The bath-room knows him never, 
nor tooth-brush ever. To night-shirt, nap- 
kin, finger-bowl and fine stationery he is as 
utterly alien as the remotest autocrat of Con- 
go's jungles. The Indian has now become 
about as bad as the white man can make him. 
But it is the firm opinion of the Army Mule 
that there are lower depths. Somewhere be- 
tween the Indian's level and that bottomless 
perdition, where the arches of Tophet redden 
in the glow of its quenchless flame, there is a 
midway plaisance tableland, reserved tran- 
scendent in its horrors for the ruminating 
promenades of the teamster terrific. Some- 
37 



THE ARMY MULE 

what lower than the Indian; a little higher 
than satan and his imps — not much — there is 
the plane of character assigned with ghoulish 
gladness to the hare-lipped caliph of the 
wagon train, by one best fitted, through inti- 
mate, hourly association, to measure his mor- 
al girth and estimate his mental altitude. 
There let him roam and range. In years tri- 
umphant of the war era, now fast vanishing 
into the vague and misty past, he had his ju- 
bilant day. This bog-spawn of humanity, 
with his ashes-of-marigold face and his un- 
thatched upper teeth, with his three-cornered 
hot temper that scorned life's amenities; this 
slouchy man with moist nostrils and an afiflic- 
tion in his left hip, who at one time hoped to 
sometime shine as chambermaid to a livery 
stable but failed, has run his course. 

What a child is taught in the abstract he is 
liable to practice in the concrete, as his subjec- 
tivity develops into objectivity, his sentiment 
into devilment. The Mule driver's unamiable 
childhood was punctuated with copious threats 
that the goblins of desperation would get him 
if he didn't watch out. The events of his 
38 



THE ARMY MULE 

pseudo war experience fully verified this 
dreadful prophecy's prophetic inspiration. 
The goblins got him and energized him, un- 
til his fury often bade fair to shred the Mule 
into his by-products of kip-leather, trousers 
buttons and mucilage. 

Under such inauspicious guidance and con- 
trol, the army Mule, luckily pachydermatous, 
proceeds to the theater of his sanguinary 
exploits. The rich girl is often in danger of 
falsifying her accounts by crediting to her 
personality the charms of her cash. But the 
cashless, unsusceptible Mule stands in no peril 
of such baleful self-deception. Lowest in 
rank of created beings assigned a part in the 
drama, fame held to him no prismatic rewards 
for excess of zeal. 

He was not built for a general range of 
cynosure business ; homeliness was his herit- 
age from the day he was foaled. He was un- 
poetic as a miss receiving her beau in the par- 
lor with her two younger brothers sitting in 
the seat of the scornful hard by. He was un- 
artistic as a Montana hurricane kite — an iron 
shutter with a tail made of log-chains. He 
39 



THE ARMY MULE 

was unsymmetric as a court dwarf with scythe- 
snath spine and a dome on his shoulder. 
Hence for the splendid immortality of sculp- 
ture he was ludicrously inapt. And if paint- 
ing deigned to give him grudged space it 
was ever in the burlesque of cartoonage or 
the dim littleness of background. 

His lucky half-brother, the showy, exag- 
gerated horse, in all classes, from the pampered 
ex-trotter with his slim neck and his record, 
to the bloated muldoon of the belt-line, jaded 
but defiant, was an easy victor in the suit 
Neigh versus Bray. To him might come sweet 
visions of promotion in the life that is and 
artistic apotheosis in a glad hereafter. But 
to the speechless, unapproachable Mule, with 
periodical reactions in the hind leg, and hight 
merely " nigh " or " off " in the vernacular, 
promotion never came. Cogitating to him- 
self with soulful grunts, he could only talk 
through his head-stall. 

Even the sutler's horse, intoed, sway-backed 
and wheezy, who had habitually worn a rag- 
ged calfskin over his rump as he stood on 
frosty nights before the war, tied to a rail 
40 



THE ARMY MULE 

fence while his owner talked poHtics in the 
village grocery, claimed superiority. The 
picturesque talisman U.S. upon his shoulder 
was the only badge of honor permitted to the 
Army Mule, save when the whip-lash had cut 
out a slice of his skin as a souvenir. But even 
this significant lettering was often so inexpertly 
executed as to serve no decorative purpose 
whatever. It was infinitely less effective than 
a bran mash to poultice his internal pains, or 
a roached mane to command external ad- 
miration. With one foot over the trace and 
both eyes blinking, the last state of that Mule 
was worse than the first. To him all alleged 
or attempted adornments were superfluous 
and unsatisfying. 

Here then was the sine of an arc which did 
not recognize equality in the cosine of its 
supplement. The sorriest horse, though just 
released from the duty of transporting miscel- 
laneous triturations of real estate in a dump- 
cart, with his alimentary system painfully 
void of toothsome internal decoration, out- 
ranked the smoothest, softest Mule, whether 
young or aged, black or sorrel, dun or gray. 

4 41 



THE ARMY MULE 

Nevertheless the explanation of the fact that 
a rat-tailed cat-hammed Mule weighing five 
hundred and thirty pounds, saw-backed, shark- 
toothed, and knobby with protruding bones 
from throat-latch to crupper, could draw 
heavier loads than a round robust Norman- 
Percheron horse weighing a ton, remains to this 
day unknown, unguessable. Invidious com- 
parison is gross violation of consanguinity 
equal to marrying one's widow's sister. The 
checked, banged and bitted high steppers of 
Fairmount park, dear to the heart of placid 
quakers because their nerves can endure the 
strain of ' ' Curfew Shall Not Toll Tonight, ' ' or 
equivalent atrocities, will not be involved 
therein; their pinked tennis-tan harness, sil- 
ver trimmed, with monograms at the joints 
and red stitches in the tug, constitute a per- 
petual, effectual bar. There was one glory 
of horse and another glory of mule, but no 
mule differed from another m.ule in glory, by 
any palpable percentage. They had little 
regard for the affinity of a somewhat common 
maternity. But whether rearing, plunging, 
kicking, rolling in the mire or pawing at the 
42 



THE ARMY MULE 

clouds, they were all equal. They met upon 
the level and parted on the square. 

The war-horse of the late unpleasantness 
has been chiseled and painted in many atti- 
tudes — especially that of unsupported suspen- 
sion in the atmosphere, with extended nose and 
carefully adjusted legs. Sheridan's horse, 
propelled down the wild, disheveled turn- 
pike by " a terrible oath ' ' at the rate of five 
(5) miles per stanza, hangs to the canvas in 
a posture unnatural as that of some artillery 
steed swung by the breeching from a tree 
after a caisson explosion. The war-horse has 
been sufficiently pictured and carved. But he 
still lacks his literary limner. Almost the 
sole description of him now accessible is that 
left by the versatile Orpheus C. Kerr. There 
is embodied an analysis of that celebrated 
Gothic steed presented to this Orpheus by 
his maiden aunt and endeared to the saline 
affections of the mackerel brigade by several 
amiable idiosyncrasies. Of whom it is writ- 
ten: 

"The beast is fourteen hands high, four- 
teen hands long, and his sagacious head is 
43 



THE ARMY MULE 

shaped like an old-fashioned pickax. Viewed 
from the rear his style of architecture is 
Gothic, and has a gable end to which his 
tail is attached. His eyes are two pearls set 
in mahogany, and before he lost his sight 
were said to be brilliant." And more to the 
same effect, intimating a diet of shoe pegs for 
oats and saw-dust for millstuffs, save in the 
rare occasions when he could set his inflexible 
teeth into a hay bale with unadulterated joy. 
Now, shall such of our children's children 
as through poverty or other crime may be 
debarred admission to war cycloramas be 
condemned to surfeit their hunger for knowl- 
edge as to the conflict's equestrian features 
with job lots of descriptive pinxit like this? 
Is the war charger to be cut off thus with no 
extra allowance for training or pedigree? Are 
nice distinctions of gait, between the single- 
foot trot and the rack, which are manifestly 
matters of original brain power and painful 
culture, modified of course by heredity, to be 
studiously ignored? In short, is the horse to 
be thus dismissed into obliquity, so to speak? 
If so, what conclusions will posterity deduce 
44 



THE ARMY MULE 

as to the anatomical development of the 
speechless inferior Mule? If an animal of 
fair social position and tenacious of his rank 
is to be thus lightly disposed of, what can we 
claim for one of no rank whatever, with only 
the snap of his teeth and the whisk of his tail 
to attract attention? The case is critical. 

When the kicker in politics dies he stays 
dead a long time ; when an opportunity passes 
it may never recur. Opportunities for writing 
correct history are slipping by month after 
month, year after year. The aged, surviving 
Mule gets nervous as in the teething period of 
his suffering colthood, while our expert histo- 
rians move off toward the horizon, clothed in 
linen ulsters and vain regrets. We have 
essays galore on the immorality of trotting 
and the iniquity of pools. We have treatises 
enough on overhead check reins and the 
cruelty of the cable slot. But this is a condi- 
tion, not a theory, which now reproaches us. 
Soon it will be too late. If the agitation 
started here shall finally result in loosening 
some corset strings of prejudice and fixing the 
neglected, necessary Mule in his true orbit, 
45 



THE ARMY MULE 

all will be well. The opportunities of a grate- 
ful country for upholstering his stomach with 
the finest and greenest her pastures proffer, 
will soon be gone forever. If we can now 
succeed in calculating his right ascension and 
declination, and stamping him on the chart 
indelibly, we may pass from recreation to re- 
freshment in full assurance of a duty well per- 
formed. 

Then let us agitate ! The winner of the 
sinful and expensive Derby must not for- 
ever flaunt his exclusive title to considera- 
tion. The piebald circus favorite shall no 
longer monopolize the fondness of our rising 
youth. The praiseworthy Mule, hot and 
foamy perhaps, stung with gad-flies, thirsty, 
dusty and cross, but patriotic and persevering 
amid all, shall have his long delayed due. 

The soldier Mule is in harness, fated to ac- 
complish marvels in the sweet ultimate, if his 
longevity holds out; his neo-pagan steers- 
man, with hare-lip, a hepatized conscience, a 
peroxide complexion and a solitaire front tooth 
cut bias, is in the saddle; all being thus in 
readiness the war can now begin. If the 
46 



THE ARMY MULE 

speechless miserable Mule shall unfortunately 
escape sorosis of the heart, hermitage of the 
lungs, and percolation by germicide decoc- 
tions, so as to live long enough, he will be- 
come a veteran. But that is anticipation. 
The near, dear day will arrive soon enough — 
alas ! 

Harnessed and mounted, cursed, cudgeled 
and spurred he starts on his weary pilgrimage. 
His emotions are more complex and profound 
than those with which a young woman re- 
ceives her first information that there are 
spring styles in trousers as well as in gowns. 
For him no primrose paths of dalliance open 
beckoning; they fade incoherently into the 
dim bedraggled, with no stretch of white 
satin ribbons to restrain feminine curiosity. 

He travels from Ohio to the gulf, but not 
in a palace car nor on a deadhead ticket. 
Far otherwise. He goes out for an extended 
starring tour in the provinces and assists in 
presenting a magnificent drama, but only 
evokes volleys of powerful and prolonged 
hisses from the guys of the gallery. He 
brings up the rear of the most gigantic and 
47 



THE ARMY MULE 

jubilant salvation army since salvation was 
revealed, but he is not conceited. He is full 
of suppressed merit as an egg is of omelet, 
yet bashful as the kerchiefless caller who toys 
with the doily in nervous embarrassment 
while the seconds swell into centuries. He 
officiates in the conveyance of breadstuffs, 
otherwise hard-tack, mouldy and fungous, 
left over from the Mexican war, and fit only 
for slumgullion ; of meats with the odor of a 
sewer-gas eruption; of black molasses, a sul- 
phuret of glucose, sour as the tartrate of acri- 
mony. 

Also desiccated sundries obsolete as a ruta- 
baga turnip, class of '56, or a weather guess 
from an anti-bilious almanac for '49, or the 
lottery wheel of a fair fakir in the early 
thirties. Likewise commissary whisky, vint- 
age of lye, lime and fusel; decanted of all 
disgusts; confected for the scum of slums. 
But none of these have terror or temptation 
for him; he knoweth his master's feed box. 
A brave, bright, meritorious Mule is he, with 
a spring in his heel and healing in his springs. 

He blots himself out of the green landscape 
48 



THE ARMY MULE 

of his youth, the asphodel meadows of peace 
that He athwart the rustic tavern with its soft 
soap, communistic towel and brown sugar. 
He marches on, marshaled in double column 
closed in mass, to slaughters that will all the 
multitudinous creeks incarnadine, and fears 
not. He steps forth with countenance severe 
as that of the sterilized milk speculator whose 
investment has soured, but heart warm as the 
modest, efficacious fritter, dear to the break- 
fast relish of Hoosier schoolboys when the 
frost is on the melon and the fodder's in the 
stalk. He starts out in the morning eager as 
if something of great value were hanging just 
in front of him, with a town supervisor reach- 
ing for it and a creditor's meeting in the an- 
nex ; he trudges along all day with the testy 
and sub-acid humor of a Pullman conductor, 
softened by a thousand patriotic reflections ; 
he comes in at night on right by file into line, 
crisp and beautiful as a sarsaparilla lithograph. 
Toil has no fears ; he does not care a ciga- 
rette for it. After the long day's exertion, 
with no nutriment but raw fog for breakfast 
and roasted south wind for dinner, with no 
49 



THE ARMY MULE 

encouragement but polyglot epithets from a 
hare-lipped miracle of mendacity, and frequent 
usufruct of hissing whip-lash to his quaking 
flanks and skinned sides, he does not despair. 
One is foolish to waste time trying to throw 
five aces with four dice, and the usual rustic 
system of studying games of hazard has sim- 
ilar elements of weakness ; but there is no 
weakness about the character of the seasoned, 
unchangeable Mule. If a glossary of battles 
could be transcribed from the quartermasters' 
reports of " actions " where Mules were lost, 
it would make a fearful and wonderful record. 
But no premonitions of battle trouble him 
now. With a good hearty roll in the dust 
and its diatonic accompaniment of snorts, 
groans and grunts, he rises refreshed. Then 
he kicks a few times for practice with the 
agility of an antiquated drum-stick from the 
black crook ballet, and lies down to rest, sup- 
perless but happy. All the visible universe 
is action and motion, from the slow dissolving 
mountain of granite, to the fleeting, flitting 
cloud of vapor that scuds across the sky. 
But the Mule sleeps, noiseless and motion- 
50 



THE ARMY MULE 

less. Into that steep, deep sleep what dreams 
might creep ! But no ! No visions of to- 
morrow's big load and high check now vex 
his royal ribs. No colic phantoms disturb his 
illusion of combing his fetlocks in golden 
stubble — fit function for his underrated merits. 
No nightmares come hurling cold hailstones 
at his sinless head or murdering "Sweet 
Marie" in Z minor around his protesting 
ears. So he awakens invigorated and steps 
out into the purple dawn of next day, fresh as 
the cold oaken bucket that dangles no longer 
in the moss-covered well, and chipper as San- 
cho Panza's Dapple — oh! speechless, incredi- 
ble Mule ! 

Were not comparisons odious we might 
unreservedly afifirm that he was fully capable 
of the zeal displayed by one of our major- 
generals who, on or about August 29, 1862, 
rushed toward the sound of John Pope's can- 
non at a hold-the-fort-for-I-am-coming veloc- 
ity of six miles a day. We may furthermore 
safely claim for him devotion at least equal 
to that displayed by another major-general, 
coincidently negatively pregnant, who drank 
51 



THE ARMY MULE 

from the same canteen and simultaneously 
telegraphed to Pope from Alexandria, pro- 
posing to reinforce him with every wagon in 
camp if he would send back cavalry for an es- 
cort ! 

There is a period in every battle when 
the bravest soldier would donate liberally to 
the missionary cause for trustworthy assur- 
ance of scathless emergence. The most val- 
orous among us are at times conciliatory and 
pacific as an intimidated husband just emerg- 
ing from a domestic cyclone cellar. Human 
nature is not perpetually keyed up to the 
Marco Bozarris pitch. Marvel not then that 
the astute Lincoln, when informed that a gen- 
eral and forty Mules had been captured by 
the enemy, put on that far-away, lodge-of- 
sorrow look and plaintively remarked : "I 
am sorry to lose the Mules." Generals, 
brave to the point of recklessness and beyond 
it, could be made as easily as bonanza Chris- 
tians, who join the church by typewriter and 
are baptized by telegraph — but Mules had a 
specific, ascertainable value. 

The Army Mule's market value or cost to 
52 



THE ARMY MULE 

the government ranged from one hundred and 
fifteen to one hundred and fifty dollars. This 
price was established when he was first 
brought in and exhibited to all intents and 
purposes as an article of merchandise. He 
was then largely occupied in attempting to 
conceal exclusive knowledge of certain seclud- 
ed green pastures ; winking slyly to himself in 
the excess of his cunning, all unaware of the 
multiplex miseries stored away for him in the 
immediate future. The price was generally 
satisfactory, for the service sighed for him. 
But the Mule did not receive the money. Far 
from it ! A part of it went to his loyal own- 
er, so called. We all knew him. He was 
suave as a Scotchman who has adopted the 
manners and customs of civilization. He 
was cheerful as the radiant old circuit rider 
who preaches to a mixed congregation in a 
boom suburb, from a text found in lot 3, 
block 12, of Timothy's second subdivision. In 
every crisis he was first to stay at home and 
readiest to volunteer his moral support in put- 
ting down insurrection. 

After selling a string of Mules he would 
53 



THE ARMY MULE 

walk the streets for a week filled with rum and 
gladness, bragging in his balmy periods over 
the keenness of his sharpness. The remain- 
der of the purchase price, as was currently 
suspected, went into the pockets of the pur- 
chasing quartermaster, clothed in white sam- 
ite, mystic, plunderful — popular only within 
restricted areas. None of it went to the Mule. 
A woman never looks well in a fault-finding 
habit ; a man never looks well when detected 
in prevarication ; therefore let us tell the 
truth : None of it went to the Mule ! 

Parenthetically we may remark that this 
type of financial inj ustice has been perpetuated , 
until the hind quarters of the speechless, un- 
speakable survivors would be excusable for 
rising in their might to protest emphatically. 
If the shoe fits spike it, says the farrier; if 
the conscience twinges one or more of us here 
present, it is perhaps not yet too late to 
reform. Nearly a thousand men, mostly 
teamsters, buglers and hospital Stewarts, tooth- 
less but terrible, have been pensioned since 
the war for lameness caused by the kick of a 
Mule's hoof iron, while no Mule has been 
54 



THE ARMY MULE 

pensioned for lameness, spavin, ring-bone, 
wind-gall or glanders — no, not one. The 
speechless, rheumatic Mule, in all his army 
moods and tenses, acquired no stiffness of the 
joints materially differing from the old civil- 
service, barnyard variety. 

Why then differentiate? Punched by the 
wagon-tongue or tripped by the trace chains, 
when the breeching was fractured on a down 
grade, the exposures to rupture or fracture 
were incessant, with no experts in attendance 
to splice the splints. These are facts which 
no profuseness of classic allusion to pearly 
brooks and flowery meads can obscure, when 
the sour cream of his experience curdles in 
his soul. In gushing eras of reconciliation 
large populations seemed extremely bent on 
pushing things to the whimpering point ; the 
people v/ho were wrong were with surprising 
unanimity almost ready to forgive the people 
who were right and kiss again with cheers. 

In those days the widow of Stonewall Jack- 
son was gallantly escorted through Boston 
Common by General Benjamin F. Butler, Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts. And she proclaimed 
55 



THE ARMY MULE 

with tears in her voice and patriotism in her 
heart, that she found in this star-eyed hero 
an elegant gentleman as well as an orthodox 
believer — then immediately applied for a 
patent on her discovery. (Some men, like 
happy dreams, are too good to be true). 
Surely the day of jubilee had come. But 
even at that time undying animosities and 
misconceptions prevented an award of due 
credit to the crippled, superannuated Army 
Mules. Little wonder that so ungrateful an 
epoch was mostly given over to hybridizing 
chrysanthemums and breeding chappies. 

And the end is not yet. ' ' Loyal ' ' owners, 
seedy and snuffy, are still collecting exagger- 
ated pay from a long enduring government for 
unnumbered myriads of mythical Mules al- 
leged to have been confiscated. The bronzed 
Kickapoo matron with soiled fingers, strain- 
ing maple syrup through the family heirloom 
blanket for the St. Louis market in the forests 
of southern Iowa, has almost ceased to be a 
picturesque, typical feature of our civilization. 
But the war claimant still lingers, multiplying 
his lost Mules periodically, as the years glide 
56 



THE ARMY MULE 

by, — while the just claims of the unquestion- 
ably loyal Mule himself are neglected with 
studious shamelessness. Many persons are 
said to think that this is not just, but we may 
perhaps be pardoned for the remark that it is 
a long time between thinks. 

Take notice, however, that not all Mules 
can establish unquestioned loyalty. Some of 
them yielded to the strain on their principles 
and went over to the enemy, like a rural dupe 
who is so charmed with the accomplishments 
of the shell-game adept that he resolves to 
embark in that line of business himself. Loy- 
alty and treason were largely matters of 
education and environment. Even the rival 
little liver pills are quite the same in their es- 
sential, fundamental ingredients; one is aloes, 
rhubarb and antimony, while the other is 
antimony, aloes and rhubarb ; either is equally 
offensive to a refined and cultured mucous 
membrane, and both are warranted to go 
through by moonlight, errors and omissions 
excepted. 

A veracious war writer has recorded that 
in May, 1865, the Confederate army con- 

5 57 



THE ARMY MULE 

sisted of Kirby Smith, four Mules and a 
base drum, moving rapidly toward Texas. 
The general's proudest hope then was that 
he might be allowed to eke out his future 
anonymous existence in the solitudes of 
Mexico ; the chattels were joint and several 
assets, like a plug of tobacco in the hands 
of a threshing crew. In war the defeated 
faction must accept the quartermaster's brand, 
"Inspected and Condemned," without a 
murmur, even as in politics he is four times 
disarmed who lets his barrel burst. These 
bonnie blue Mules could be readily classed as 
disfranchised and denationalized. They would 
clearly come within the fourteenth amend- 
ment unless they have been amnestied by the 
statute of limitations. 

At any rate, the vivid historic pageant 
ranks next in interest to Saul of Tarsus rid- 
ing the Mule's father into Damascus, where 
he proceeded to mulch the nursery stock 
of a new faith and dig a few grubs out of 
the roots. The boy with a big apple in his 
mouth, that he can neither spit out nor chew 
nor swallow, is a distressing spectacle; the 
58 



THE ARMY MULE 

twentieth century southerner apologizing for 
his deluded secessionist ancestor will com- 
mand a broad clientage of respectful sympa- 
thy. 

The Army Mule's strategic value was rec- 
ognized throughout the whole corrugated sur- 
face of the Kenesaw region, and everywhere 
else within the lines of active operation. It 
was tersely expressed by General George H. 
Thomas when he said : 'The fate of an army 
sometimes depends on a linch-pin." Poetry 
without a motif is held by experts to be defi- 
cient in verve ; an army without a train long 
as the exordium of a professional spell-binder 
was supposed to be impossible. The science 
of electrocution is in its infancy, but the 
death-dealing corset has been industriously 
slaughterous for three or four generations. 

Erroneous solutions of the transportation 
problem are responsible for much needless 
sacrifice of life and treasure. The army train 
was a baffling understudy. Six patient, 
faithful Mules were attached to each creaking 
big blue wagon, with a high, white canvas 
cover. Thirteen wagons were, during the first 
59 



THE ARMY MULE 

two years of the war, allotted to a regiment of 
infantry; six to a battery of artillery. Such 
campaigning emulated the luxuriousness of a 
hundred-acre corn-field where every ear-muff 
is made of silk. (P. S. It was subsequently 
abandoned.) One hundred teams occupy a 
mile of road. Thus an army of seventy-five 
thousand men are followed when marching 
by a wagon-train eighteen miles long, hauled 
by Mules. 

A broken linch-pin or king-bolt or hame- 
strap near the front of this lumbering proces- 
sion would bring the whole succedent line 
promptly to a halt. Strategy at once im- 
pinges against a nonplus. The campaign 
comes to a dead stand with a dull thud. The 
florid, inductive teamster, with a hare-lip, is 
pondering profoundly the subjectiveness of 
dinnerlessness. He is a hectic, hungry, hairy 
man, with whiskers on his wrists; in addition 
he is deliberate. He repairs the damage 
very deliberately. He refreshes himself, 
meanwhile, with snatches of ancient melody, 
rescued from .the deluge with Shem and Ham. 
Also with frequent volleys of Enfield curses 
60 



THE ARMY MULE 

and Gatling blows, discharged at his speech- 
less, unoffending Mules. Luridity of impiety 
is a sme qua non. 

The mild, ethereal wickedness of that fossil- 
ized beechnut relating to the dam by a mill 
site, pales its ineffective glow. It is usually 
the dictate of wisdom to leave a wild-eyed 
cannibal in undisturbed possession of his war- 
path ; equally so to be very sparing of sneers 
at another man's joss. Consequently the 
driver's amiable diversion is seldom interfered 
with. When all damages are repaired the 
procession moves on. 

Then begins again the long lumbering 
creak, to continue in melancholy monotony 
until another linch-pin breaks or buckle parts 
asunder. Eighteen miles of tortured wagons 
roll on and on; white-arched, weighty; relics 
of a thorny, stormy past, yet pregnant with 
an illimitable future. They bristle with tent- 
poles, trail tangled tent ropes far behind, and 
exude knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, drums 
and drum majors at every pore. They are 
festooned around and beneath with clinging 
mess pans, pendulous camp kettles, and the 
6i 



THE ARMY MULE 

like differentiation of iron-mongery. If the 
weather is fine this creak and grind and rum- 
ble goes on and on, with monotonous, me- 
chanical steadiness, subject to accidents as 
aforesaid, until the tuneful, sagacious Mule 
sings the long roll, as he instinctively scents 
approach to the preordained place of en- 
campment, when welcome night draws nigh. 

This is the poetry of transportation, jolly as 
a cake-walk, comfortable as a smoking jacket, 
easy as reducing the labor question to an ex- 
act science by the acceptance of a generous 
salary as walking delegate. But when rains 
descend and floods come, the scenery shifts; 
wagons, muleteers and quadrupeds are indis- 
criminately plunged into diluvial quagmires, 
fathomless as air and shoreless as the gulf- 
stream. Then the liquified turnpike spreads 
over the valleys and yellow cascades roar 
down the defenseless ruts. 

Then the climax of helpless wretchedness 
arrives, always fatefuUy tumbling on the ar- 
ticulated anatomy of a hapless, cadaverous 
Mule. Beneath him even chilled-steel agony 
can not go. He gathers in all its multiplex 
62 






^/':?5^ 




' The quenchless, marvelous mule emerges from the mire and 
clay, with a whooping-cough wheeze (Page 63) 



THE ARMY MULE 

horrors, computed on the Utah plural family 
plan. He would win a Columbian Exposition 
medal for the most picturesque collection of 
miseries — picturesque, variegated and alto- 
gether astonishing. They overwhelm him 
like a bather submerged in sea waves twenty 
feet high, each weighing a thousand tons, half 
brine and half sledge-hammer. 

No man can adequately realize what mag- 
nificent folly he is capable of until he sees 
his own old love-letters set forth in the cold, 
cruel print of some hideous newspaper. No 
man can fully appreciate the faithfulness of 
our devoted animal co-workers until he sees 
a crucial test applied. The quenchless, mar- 
velous Mule emerges from the mire and clay, 
with a whooping-cough wheeze, driven to 
preternatural exertions by redoubled curses 
and quadrupled scourgings. 

His step is quick, short and grasping. The 
spirit inherited from some remote Hambleton- 
ian antetype flames in his nostrils. He rings 
a fire alarm, hoists the grand hailing sign of 
distress, and defiantly dashes his toe-calks 
through to hard pan. He rushes down the 
63 



THE ARMY MULE 

high bluff, over the muddy flat, across the 
cold stream, up the steep bank — lashed, lath- 
ered and spurred. With a whisk of his tail 
that scatters bullets of mud he springs to the 
tremendous task. His body is squat to the 
earth at times, but his ears always point star- 
ward. Every muscle hisses with the heat of 
the strain and every nerve is burning; his 
whole frame quivers and smokes as he bursts 
into supremest effort and brings his freightage 
to the goal, or dies in his tracks, a speech- 
less, unsung martyr to the cause. No bur- 
ial, no monument, no obituary. 

To the Army Mule in camp, if anywhere, 
rest, rations and felicity should come. A 
surplus of excitement is injurious to the 
nerves, but life wholly without an atmosphere 
is in peril from suffocation. Rest is alleged 
to be the only unfailing antidote to Dr. 
Bright's widely advertised kidney complaint. 
Camp is recreation in army service as court- 
ing is the play spell of the soul. The farm- 
ers in politics, dedicated to a maximum of 
talk and a minimum of toil, need no procla- 
mation from the governor bidding them hold 
64 



THE ARMY MULE 

a fast from work in order to enjoy a feast of 
discussion. 

The free-lunch rounder, with pretzel crumbs 
on his mustache, loves above all things to sit 
easy at his inn. Even the emancipated lady 
prays earnestly for deliverance from the fa- 
tigues of the conservative, innocent, purely 
platonic schottische. Consequently no blame 
can justly attach to the worn and worried Mule 
for standing ever in readiness to fall in with 
propositions for honorable repose. Beautiful 
are his anticipations of a good time in camp ; 
beautiful as a statue of hammered brass, and 
as hollow. The hollowness results from the 
fact that no reckoning was made of the hare- 
lipped despot at the other end of the picket 
rope 

Ten pounds of grain and thirty pounds of 
hay is the daily allowance. Some pie-plant 
professor of an agricultural institute, with a 
marked-down set of artificial eyebrows hung 
at oblique angles to his nose, long ago fig- 
ured it out on strict mathematical principles 
of animal economy. The court records it 
and the law doth give it. Thrice happy is 
65 



THE ARMY MULE 

the beast that gets it; happy, but rarer than 
Indians with side whiskers and ideahty. 
Straw, stalks, tent pins and cracker boxes 
are his more reliable provender. These are 
reinforced with stray bites now and then, 
when he can chew himself loose, from a pri- 
vate's laundered and lively underwear drying 
on a limb, or from the cold shoulder of a cor- 
poral of the guard. 

In the sweet, serene night watches, when 
slumber's chain had manacled us, roving 
Mules may have rubbed noses while hatch- 
ing a bleak and dark conspiracy to massacre 
the brigade and plunder the forage train. 
But it came to naught; possibly for lack of 
leadership. There was no relief for the op- 
pressed, defrauded Mule. No satiating food 
for him, savory as Lyonaise potato softly 
tinctured with onion. No lollipop confec- 
tionery for him, melting in the mouth like 
painted butter. Empty is the nosebag, even 
as to plebeian oats ; empty as the wit of ir- 
reverent soldiers who josh the chaplain and 
gibe at the Mule. 

An agricultural inquirer once wrote to Hor- 
66 



THE ARMY MULE 

ace Greeley asking if guano was good to put 
on potatoes. The busy editor replied that it 
might do for men whose taste had been viti- 
ated by tobacco and rum, but for his own 
eating he preferred gravy. This was the 
cranberry tart retort of the illustrious journal- 
ist, with a tough undercrustof misconception, 
it is true. The condiments for the Army 
Mule's camp banquet were not of the spice 
spicy. He has clear memories of a voracity 
which created wide vacuum in sundry green- 
swards, and played havoc with corn cribs 
manifold. The voracity remains, but the 
swards and cribs are far, far away. 

At spasmodic intervals a sympathetic war- 
rior, having burned all the top rails of an in- 
formally confiscated fence, will toss the juicy 
and edible bottom rail to the pleading, omniv- 
erous Mule, residuary legatee of camp-fires. 
This is good average food in times of interne- 
cine strife, when so simple an article as pie is 
a precious prerogative. But such well-flavored 
morsels are too uncertain for standard suste- 
nance. For shockingly protracted periods, 
he stands unfed, neglected, receiving all sug- 
^7 



THE ARMY MULE 

gestions with a squeal and a kick, while the 
zephyrs disinfect his fur. Pending which, 
stark, grim skeletons of all the barked and 
branchless trees within stretch of his tether 
attest the final result of an attempt to adjust 
his Minnesota appetite to his Andersonville 
rations. If watered twice a week he may 
vote himself lucky ; he has not even the sur- 
feit of a teetotaler's wassail, where water 
flows like wine "A Mule feels chilly in 
July," says the Talmud ; if his temperature 
depends on the supply of internal fuel, there 
is limited space for astonishment. 

Meanwhile an unsanctified teamster, with 
red hair and hare-lip, blushing with innocence 
until his whiskers singe in the heat, enjoys the 
encampment episode to the uttermost. In 
Constantinople public opinion is gauged by 
the prevalence of nocturnal conflagrations, 
and the number of hanged bakers decorating 
the street corners next morning. But in 
camp there is no concentrated public opinion 
sufficiently intense to mete out due retribution 
to the profligate castigator of the fodderless, 
thirsty Mule. He sleeps on ample bedding 
68 



THE ARMY MULE 

of good sweet hay, and has large store of ger- 
rymandered corn to exchange for toothsome 
luxuries. His tobacco is of the costliest 
brand and he defiantly blows the froth of 
numerous beers from his blasphemous lips. 
He carries a full purse and a steady nerve ; 
also a bomb-proof conscience void of offense. 
Bad medicine, he ! 

The jocundities of life in camp we may 
gather ad nauseam from the romances of some 
of the professors of freehand drawing who en- 
listed as army correspondents, but- for pur- 
poses of authentic history these narratives are 
worthless as second-hand champagne corks. 
The jocularities referred to have no interest to 
the solemn, imperturbable Mule save when he 
is an object of their malevolence. Then they 
are more interesting than enjoyable The 
swell imbecile carries an umbrella under his 
arm through crowded streets until its tip is 
garnished with the eye of some unfortunate 
fellow wayfarer; the man who loses the eye 
fails to see the point of — the joke. 

The Mule is not much of a joker himself; 
but as a victim of practical jokes, fine, funny or 
69 



THE ARMY MULE 

chestnutty, he has become widely celebrated. 
His resentment of these preposterous hilari- 
ties, all of which are on the passe social code of 
roller rinks, has caused much of the reputation 
for waspy temper which now attaches to him 
with the tenacity of a bachelor girl to the state 
of single blissfulness. Temper changes with 
status, as was ascertained by the enthusiast 
who originally named his fiancee Revenge 
because she was sweet, but now that she is 
his wife calls her Delay because she is dan- 
gerous. 

The city man who would own a farm should 
have a good income well assured elsewhere, 
for it will certainly be needed. The fool- 
hardy individual who proposes to play tricks 
on a mule should be well buttressed with 
sound accident policies. Beware the irritated 
quadruped ! Look not into the red mouth of 
a wild Numidian lion; touch not the royal 
Bengal tiger's remotest whisker-tip; avoid the 
little black bull with an eye like a razor's 
edge ; make no experiments with the terminal 
facilities of the speechless, inscrutible Mule ! 

His ways are past finding out ; his kicks are 
70 



THE ARMY MULE 

incalculable, inexplicable, incomprehensible. 
He sometimes allows patience to pile up in 
ridges on his neck, while the battalions of 
wrath are debouching from all quarters into 
his hoof. Then the eruption breaks out with 
torpedo suddenness and with an energy of 
fury that rivals the deafening roar which 
smites the aggregated ear of the magnificent 
metropolis, when fire invades the wholesale 
district. 

Blessed is the nation whose annals are un- 
eventful — America is safe with fifteen million 
children in the public schools and three thou- 
sand citizens to one soldier. Happy is the 
bride whom the sun shines on whether matricu- 
lated at Ognotz or merely captivated at To- 
peka. Joyous to the weary mechanic the 
picnic of his labor holiday, with its lemonade, 
its orations, and its other things that lull to 
peaceful slumber. Halcyon to the Army 
Mule are monotonous days in camp, when they 
bring surcease of torment as well as toil ; red- 
lettered if therewithal be brought, by rare con- 
catenation, such plethora of long forage as 
drowns vicissitude in bright beatitude. In 
6 71 



THE ARMY MULE 

that case he rounds out radiantly and within 
the cycle of a very few days develops beyond 
recognition. His protrusions disappear like 
the vanishing lines of a mineral lode. His 
rumps accumulate fat and his girth expands 
with a facility that is amazing. His eye 
takes on a new gleam and his bray acquires a 
fresh intonation. 

Moreover, he is speedily transformed into 
a bold aristocrat. He cultivates style and 
assumes airs of conscious superiority equal to 
the contemptuous sniff of a Fifth avenue dog 
who has smelled some chance passer-by two 
or three grades below par. His future may 
be uncertain as a Spaniard's veracity or a 
Frenchman's paternity; but he lives in the 
glad and glowing present, with the noncha- 
lance of a Russian official hunting for frag- 
ments of the czar by torchlight, after a popu- 
lar demonstration. 

Of the Mule in battle, lean is the record's 
exploitation. There is little danger that his 
renown in that line will ever be subversive of 
our liberties and other luxuries. Right is for- 
ever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the 
72 



THE ARMY MULE 

make, as of old. But the placid, benevolent 
Mule never takes up arms against either 
party — our quartermaster's returns of un- 
counted thousands ' ' lost in action ' ' to the 
contrary notwithstanding. It even seems 
difficult to secure credit for such service as he 
actually rendered. His occasional sporadic 
work in artillery teams is wholly forgotten. 
His frequent spurts to the flaming front with 
ammunition wagons is entirely ignored. 

A common, peaceful explosion of powder 
magazines at home not only shatters all the 
windows in the neighborhood, but also shat- 
ters the faith of people for miles around in the 
doctrine of resurrection of the body. So the 
peaceful nature of the Mule is fatal to any ac- 
cumulation of reputation bubbles, where bay- 
onets bristle and saltpeter burns. Were he 
ten times the tin-clad child of havoc that he 
is, the florid, hare-lipped arbiter of his desti- 
nies would see to it carefully that, barring 
accidents, his opportunities for responding to 
long rolls should be few. 

The Chicago socialists tendered an olive 
branch to the police made of gas-pipe and 

n 



THE ARMY MULE 

charged with nitroglycerine in a highly per- 
suasive state of concentration. But when the 
red and riotous fume of the bomb-throwers' 
breath permeated the haymarket like a pesti- 
lence, no army Mule mingled with the med- 
ley of frowzy trousers. No more do we hear 
of him at Shiloh or Champion Hill or Cedar 
Creek, 

For offensive purposes the Mule was, in gen- 
eral, harmless as a United States frigate or a 
divinity student at a bean-bag festival, or the 
ghost of a goose, white, downy and clamor- 
ous. The valedictorian of the last class at 
the Keeley cure, permeated with a variety of 
virtuous joint and several resolutions, could 
scarcely be more docile. Even the reproach- 
ful Confederate smokehouse could not shake 
its gory padlock at the stainless, unimpeach- 
able Mule — although he carried a jimmy equal 
to most emergencies, he could, as a rule, 
readily establish an alibi. When fodder is 
really in the shock, and frost is ready to be 
cleft from pumpkins with a snow-plow, then 
such free tubers as have been produced in 
sweet charity's name on the Pingree plan 
74 



THE ARMY MULE 

should be harvested without procrastination ; 
delays are perilous at that season of the year. 
The evil effects of the shock, however, can 
be minimized, by feeding the fodder, in ad- 
vance, to the harmless, appreciative Mule. 
Forewarned is four times armed, or more. 

Non-combatants and impedimenta compose 
the rear of an army when it is in action. Here 
assemble great drinkers of alcohol, and vast 
eaters, who measurably justify Germany's 
subsequent discrimination against the Ameri- 
can hog — all of whom let concealment like a 
chinch-bug prey on their damaged cheeks, 
their necks, meanwhile, being given over to 
the ravages of the army flea. Here in secure 
serenity mobilize numerous excellent subjects 
for the romantic young woman who yearns 
for a lovely debauchee to reform. Here con- 
gregate cooks, commissaries and sutlers — this 
last with a sage-brush tinge of disappoint- 
ment in his aspect, and a Jenness-Miller cut 
of trousers on his limbs. Here recreate skulk- 
ers who simulate heroes, and sneaks in the 
garbage of soldiers, all cumberers of the 
ground, like a prophet gone to seed in his 
75 



THE ARMY MULE 

own country. Here gather men of Trilby 
feet and mighty thirst, who are riotous with 
repartee, but intensely hostile to all manner 
of soft beverage ; also cowards, inveterate as 
the upward tendency of tartar emetic ; more- 
over, quartermasters' clerks, spouting blood- 
thirstiness like a congressional candidate, or 
some other gas well; likewise, here in the 
rear, are mule wagons, mule pack trains, 
mule teams, mule drivers and Mules. 

When retreating or outflanked the order is 
varied and rear becomes front instanter. Then 
unthinkable confusion reigns. A financial ca- 
tastrophe brought on by forty-cent wheat and 
ten-cent statesmanship looking at facts through 
a long-distance binocle, is bad enough. An 
explosion of the swear tank for a thought dis- 
tillery in the higher realms of journalism is even 
worse, if possible. But when a Mule dam 
breaks, the thundering reverberation of its tu- 
multuous hoofs is a resonant forecast of pan- 
demonium rampant. Vain and futile then all 
ardent aspiration for such quiet as ensues when 
the wicked cease from borrowing and the fe- 
male elocutionist soars and bores no more! 
76 



THE ARMY MULE 

Our cavalry out-posts were broken doses of 
soothing syrup for the nervous flanks of the in- 
fantry, and often stampeded the front line by 
their too precipitate retrogression. 

A stampede of Mule teams to the rear had 
all the spiritnel features and picturesque com- 
plications of an arrangement of tariff schedules 
on the principle of local option. Attempts at 
control were hopeless as piloting a national cam- 
paign when the American voter is on the ram- 
page. It was a chaotic conglomeration of con- 
vulsive uproar, sufficient to whirl down any 
hope of glory with a sickening slump. The 
gentleman from out of town, who, in spite of 
conspicuous warning, blows out the gas, makes 
his exit from sublunary strife in enviable 
quietude. No such privileges are extended 
to the end man of a Mule rush. In exclusive 
social circles, the dress may be a dream, and 
the bill a nightmare, but in the mixed com- 
panionship we are contemplating, this im- 
promptu display is a veritable delirium tremens 
of undelineated horror. 

Frederick the Great shouted to a fleeing 
battle-straggler, "Wretch, wouldst thou live 
17 



THE ARMY MULE 

forever?" and paralyzed him. The una- 
bashed army teamster, with a sHced upper 
Hp and hair aesthetically matching his sorrel 
Mule, sprinting along the broad highway of 
wrath, pitched downward at an angle of 
forty -five degrees toward perdition, would 
have admitted the soft impeachment, and 
pursued his flight, lashing, blaspheming. 
He may have been, at home, as consistent a 
Baptist as ever yoked a steer, but for this 
occasion all rules are suspended by unanimous 
consent, and precedent tumbles headlong. 
The coincidence of a florid girl and a pale 
horse is always exasperating, at least to the 
girl; a hurried retreat in the presence of a 
menacing enemy, naturally exasperates to full 
pitch of desperation the belligerent boss of the 
nimble, obedient Mule. 

In numberless miscellaneous episodes of a 
military sphere, the Army Mule was marked 
high as to deportment. Though of some- 
what irregular character, even verging at 
times on the diabolical, he emulated the 
standards of the officer and the gentleman. 
We can afford to mix a little sentiment with 
78 



THE ARMY MULE 

our matter of fact. We can afford to drop a 
tear when the object is worth it. We can af- 
ford a note of eulogy under like circumstances, 
even to an Arizona cayuse fattened on bunch- 
grass to the rotundity of a prickly pear. 

Yes, certainly, business thrift is commend- 
able, but when it comes to crossing the light- 
ning-bug with the honey-bee so that the latter 
can work at night, we draw the line , Sentiment 
aside, there is a measure of truth in the aver- 
ment that the Army Mule and the army bean 
put down the rebellion. The dancing diplo- 
mat, with his twisted comprehensions and his 
addled complacencies may not appreciate it. 
Such an one, having never associated with 
the speechless, unspeakable Mule, nor, in- 
deed, had any legitimate business transac- 
tions with him, may possibly still assert that 
the lion is king of beasts. Far from it ! The 
lion will serve as a freak, children half price; 
but for steady days' works, for genuine aplomb 
and musical dexterity of wide longitudinal 
range, the courteous, dignified Mule was pre- 
eminently peerless. 

To hospital and guard-house, Siamese bug- 
79 



THE ARMY MULE 

bears of honorable service, he was a stranger. 
It was never necessary to detail a fatigue 
squad to police his ears. The worthy chap- 
lain, fresh from green pastures of civil life, 
where he fed the juicy lambs and clubbed the 
tough old rams of the flock, found no occa- 
sion for reproof to the silent, orthodox Mule. 
No venial dereliction ever subjected him to 
stoppage of pay or reduction to the ranks, 
even when the fodder that he longed for 
never came. No court-martial, reeking with 
pungent odors of staple and fancy sutlers' 
goods, ever met to arbitrate his predestinated 
destiny. You might tie his tail like a pret- 
zel, or pound his bray in a mortar, yet would 
not his serenity depart from him. The prone- 
ness of his voice apparatus to go off at half 
cock unfitted him for crooked works of strat- 
egy — he could never be relied on either to 
" lie " in wait or ' ' steal " on an enemy. How 
gratefully he turns with a maple-sap thaw in 
his aspect, when his neck has been stripped 
of the blistering harness ; how joyously his 
eager nostrils sniff the forage from afar. 
Oh ! grateful, melodious Mule ! 
80 



THE ARMY MULE 

A zoological riddle, offspring of amalgam 
and miscegen as unclassifiable as a severe 
case of Debs aggravated by symptoms of 
Coxey and Altgeld, he had, nevertheless too 
much animal self-respect to ever incur censure 
for getting humanly drunk. While the giddy 
whirl of current events whirls even more gid- 
dily, let us remember that virtue in his favor. 

Man's frailty darkens many a sad, sad story 
— sad as a volume of the Congressional Rec- 
ord; the Army Mule's frailties were few, his 
conquests many. He was amiable after all ; 
even General Butler, the most illustrious 
heavenly twin of war times, conceded that 
much. His temper was by no means of the 
cactus order, generally speaking. He chooses 
grudges with rare discrimination ; it is always 
safe to suspect the man that a Mule hates. 
Patient in toil ; silent in suffering ; cogent and 
cautious as the rule in Shelly's case; serene 
amid direst confusion and alarm ; heedless of 
ancient sarcasms decaying or petrified, he 
was in no sense a grumbler, and in no unpar- 
donable sense a kicker. His hours of feed 
were unstable as the advertising rates of a 
8i 



THE ARMY MULE 

poor but honest journalist, yet he was lighter 
of heart than a newly married gent rushing 
the oil can to a corner grocery. 

If to his straight enduring back a mountain 
howitzer was sometimes strapped and fired 
without unslinging, he accepted the indignity, 
went to grass with the recoil, and rose for the 
next inning, unrufifled as an expert witness 
emerging from the labyrinth of a hypothetical 
question — oh ! dimless, unknowable Mule ! 

A retired tobacconist adopted for the motto 
of a fresh coat of arms to be emblazoned on 
his carriage panels : ' ' Quid Rides? ' ' Why 
do you laugh? After a Saint Petersburg as- 
sassination episode it is comparatively imma- 
terial whether you call the widow czarina or 
imperatritza. In these peaceful days, Lin- 
coln's speech at Gettysburg, translated into 
the jingling speech of Chinamen, and even 
into the jabbering Japanese, which rivals the 
contortions of the kinetoscope, opens a new 
evangel to their narcotic. Oriental souls. 
Sherman's marvelous retreat from Atlanta 
to Savannah is studied by the strategists of 
deepest Afgahnistan ; alleged busts of John 
82 



THE ARMY MULE 

A. Logan are worshiped as idols in innermost 
Kamchatka, and spicy narratives we told to 
credulous marines are the basis of classic fic- 
tion on the Congo. 

Hence nothing is frivolous that lends an 
added array to the most luminous chapter of 
contemporary history — of any history. While 
in the matter of beer, the foreigner unques- 
tionably pays the tax, or most of it, yet as 
between natives, white-colored may lose and 
black may win; 'tis hard to tell. Make no 
mistake as to the intrinsic, historic importance 
of the forgotten, unforgetting Mule ! 

The empty skeptic may come forth with 
fire in his eye and boiled egg on his whiskers 
seeking to overwhelm us with the gorgeous- 
ness of his gush or the sumptuousness of his 
gall. To empty skeptics, or shallow scoffers, 
these simple annals of a lowly career may seem 
fruitless as that famous sour apple tree that 
failed to yield its promised harvest; hopeless 
as the perpetual revolutions of a bob-tailed 
dog chasing the vacant space where the tail 
should be ; tasteless as fried smelts ; thankless 
as opening a mint sauce to the free coinage 
83 



THE ARMY MULE 

of lamb. The chappie fellows who flutter at 
functions and titter at teas may scoff or scorn. 
But the eye of calm philosophy ought to 
beam kindly on a faithful effort to weave un- 
considered trifles of truth into a wreath of 
earned, though meager and belated justice, 
so that even the wayfaring man, though full, 
need score no errors. 

The speechless, unquenchable Mule was a 
real factor in those events we love to com- 
memorate. It is asserted that only one man 
now survives who helped whip Lee at Get- 
tysburg, and then marched triumphantly with 
Grant into conquered Vicksburg next day. 
But the Army Mule did both, and more ! He 
went out with the mob of pinfeather volun- 
teers, who spent their first callow days prin- 
cipally in vociferous "swearing in," and their 
sappy nights at discordant drills in patriotic 
minstrelsy. 

With less recognition than even the barn- 
stormers' encore of addled carrot and frum- 
escent cabbage, he helped wet-nurse our in- 
fant regiments when they were just getting 
able to sit up and gaze vacantly around. 
84 



THE ARMY MULE 

With a prodigious faculty in his heels for put- 
ting strange faces in heaven, he held himself 
in commendable subjection while incipient 
legions evolved themselves out of chaos. He 
passed on, beaten with many stripes, to that 
multitudinous aggregation called an army, 
where human atoms, swarming and wriggling 
to the music of brass bands, like agile mites 
in a nugget of archaic cheese, united to give 
him the frigid shake with a glad hand. The 
girl, photographed for her lover with her vail 
down, that his sister might not recognize the 
likeness, was a miracle of modest artifice; 
thrice proficient in meritorious cunning, the 
unassuming, artful Mule. 

Unequally yoked in servitude to a cowboy 
taskmaster, unlovable as the venerable Small- 
weed's brimstone, blackbeetle helpmeet, also 
redheaded, harelipped and stuffed with nitric 
nine-cornered blasphemy, he plodded pain- 
fully on. Stark and indurate like an Adiron- 
dack meadow enameled with trap rock, he 
plodded rigidly on. Anhungered and athirst, 
with no credit at the sutler's, on he plodded, 
through hot, white clouds of drastic turnpike 
85 



THE ARMY MULE 

dust, or red and hideous depths of gummy 
mud, dragging incredible burdens of those 
indispensable supplies that smooth war's 
wrinkled front and quell its clamoring empti- 
ness. When he diffidently claimed his share 
of such supplies, he was given the marble 
heart or the dry and dreadful laugh — yea, 
the juiceless, mechanical laugh, with daggers 
in it. 

Oh ! liberty, what humbugs are nurtured 
in thy name ! Prodded and flayed until his 
staggering knees, his welt-fretted haunches 
and his bloody nostrils placarded his agony, 
the Army Mule accepted the wideopen policy 
of his castigator and crunched his barmecide 
feasts, lacerated and scarified, hoping the 
brighter day. 

Like the intoxicating bewilderment of a 
reception ball, decorated with roses, lilies, 
smilax, palms and electric illumination, come 
back to us those grateful reminiscences, 
crowded with apparitions of the maligned, 
mellifluous Mule. Leashed and shackled, 
foodless in the drizzly, sleety camp, when 
our quarrel with destiny was an octave higher 
86 



THE ARMY MULE 

than usual, his cheerful night cries, welcome 
as suicides to a coroner, exorcised the blue 
devils of our dolorous solitude. 

While fumes of our priceless coffee floated 
pleasantly pungent like the cedar aroma of a 
moth closet, the tuneful echoes of those night 
cries floated also — ^Mule answering unto Mule 
in fond, fraternal recognition. Baptized with 
fire, adjacent or remote, even if only with its 
rumors and reflections, the pattering skirmish 
shots of distant action, he at length became a 
veritable veteran. Like a thrice-rejected suitor 
finally made happy, he had been well shaken 
before taken. And now, a warrior bold, sea- 
soned to war's alarms, he could, upon occa- 
sion, thirst or seem to thirst for gore, with all 
the mad ferocity of a sheep smitten with hy- 
drophobia, or a camel charged with nitro- 
glycerine. Duplicating the awkwardness of 
man's debut into polite society delayed until 
past the meridian of life, this ardor of the 
mettled, military Mule, if late, was touching- 
ly conspicuous. 

Marching triumphant home, kneesprung 
but irrepressible, his large, luxuriant ears 
7 87 



THE ARMY MULE 

were tremulous with the hysterical emotions 
of the hour, and his double-turreted voice 
was loudest in the wild acclaim of victory. 
Long years he lived, it may be, wearing on 
knightly shoulder a proud insignia of his serv- 
ice, the indellible brand of honor, which no 
humility of avocation could degrade nor 
purse-proud aristocracy of money bags, the 
basest known on earth, contemn with impu- 
nity. And when the end comes, as come it 
must, even to the longevous Mule, then 
speechless and unspeakable at last and eter- 
nally, the flag under which he toiled might 
be put to worse uses than that of covering his 
emaciated frame as it is trundled off to the 
glue-factory. 

I mean no disrespect to the flag. 

That flag is our flag! Man has always 
and everywhere sought in bannered blazon- 
ries the symbol of a sovereign power. 
Everywhere and in all times some emblem of 
a might which confessed no mightier has led 
embattled hosts to triumph, and taught heroic 
spirits how sweet it is to die. The banner 
88 



THE ARMY MULE 

becomes the crystallization of the nation's 
life, and the embodiment of her glory, until 
fighting beneath it is patriotism, dying for it 
is immortality, and treachery to it is the 
blackest of crimes. Our flag of beauty and 
renown, descending to us from stainless sires 
by a shining pathway, pure as that down 
which the holy grail slipped from the open- 
ing heavens, won a new lustre in the hands 
of our generation. Overlapping each other 
in the crowding profusion of their golden le- 
gends, every stripe of our banner is weighty 
with its battle roll, even as each silver star 
burns the prime jewel in a crown of valorous 
achievement. 

Donelson and Shiloh and Vicksburg ; Nash- 
ville, and Murfreesboro, and Kenesaw; Win- 
chester and South Mountain and Antietam ; 
Gettysburg and the Wilderness and Appoma- 
tox — these and five hundred more. How the 
deathless names gild the resplendent folds of 
the proud ensign of liberty ! Flag of the 
continent, rivers and seas ; flag of a reunited 
country; flag of the glorious past and of the 



89 



THE ARMY MULE 

dimless future ; flag of freedom ; flag of the 
world ! 

Washed in the blood of the brave and the blooming. 

Snatched from the altars of insolent foes ; 
Burning with star-fires, but never consuming, 

Flash its broad ribbons of lilj and rose. 

Let US never cease to cherish the remem- 
brance of the days when we followed it and 
fought for it. Among the soft, delicious 
echoes of those days which float booming 
across the ocean of memory will sometimes 
come, whether we greet it kindly or coldly, a 
sunny recollection of the seductive wink, the 
tuneful bray and the electric kick of the Army 
Mule. 



90 




THE SUTLER 
II 

OW the time has arrived 
when this matter of the 
Sutler should be brought 
into its true alignment. 
His status should be dif- 
ferentiated and embalmed 
in due longitudinal sec- 
tions of small pica. It should be finally set- 
tled whether he was the reincarnation of a sev- 
enteen-year locust, or only a pansy blossom, 
with lips all mute like a thinking star in 
the back row of a ballet. An excess of in- 
certitude also prevails as to his rank and 
historic area. This latter at least should be 
staked out and cross-sectioned for the annals 
that portray scenes when heroes' heels were 
on the shore of Maryland, my Maryland; 
91 



THE SUTLER 

which annals are expected to go shimmering 
down festive centuries clothed in the peren- 
nial freshness of St. Shamrock's day in the 
morning. 

The Sutler was born, not made. That is 
to say, his tendencies were ingrained, per- 
haps hereditary, even in cases where his 
selection was nepotic or accidental. Once he 
was purer than beautiful snow, it may be, but 
even then he was a Sutler in embryo. And 
when the beautiful snow was gone ; when 
gentle spring had sprung and the croak of the 
crocus was heard in the land ; when the pre- 
mature robin, wearing a sore throat and lung- 
pads, came with hoarse notes whistling of 
peace when there was no peace, because 
Sumter had surrendered — then Sutlers blos- 
somed out with the peach trees, to bear mis- 
cellaneous fruitage later on. 

Army service gave technical nomenclature 
to many familiar avocations and character- 
istics. Smoked halibut by any other desig- 
nation would be a thirst-provoker just the 
same. But some of these military titles were 
very effective disguises. The ecclesiastical 
92 



THE SUTLER 

monitor, from spur to plume a star of sancti- 
mony, was called the chaplain. The phar- 
maceutical tenderloin, with a razor edge to 
his voice at sick-call ceremonies, was called 
a surgeon. The district messenger boy was 
called an adjutant, and could upon occasion 
play a notable poker game with the able as- 
sistance of his sleeve. The hearse thronged 
with blood-curdling Lady Macbeth sugges- 
tions was called an ambulance, and its driver, 
sure of dry lodgings, ranged high up in the 
Four Hundred. The speechless indispensable 
instrument of transportation, which performed 
most of the work and received none of the 
pay or glory, was called a mule, with various 
picturesque prefixes. The sergeant-major, 
noted for vast acrobatic ability and imposing 
length of leg, was called — everywhere. The 
colonel was often called a fool ; the quar- 
termaster was usually called a rascal ; 

and the real rascal was sometimes known as 
the Sutler. The blanks represent profanity, 
which I abhor. 

Before those subsequent halcyon days when 
it had been demonstrated by experience that 
93 



THE SUTLER 

the beneficent and plenteous sweet potato 
supplied the precise nutritive elements best 
calculated to evolve serene contentment and 
epicurean bliss; while yet each soldier was 
a voluble and self-satisfied critic of tactics, 
strategy, logistics, finance and diplomacy — 
then a Sutler's supplies were deemed abso- 
lutely essential to the successful prosecution 
of war. But even then a measurable discern- 
ment prevailed. Positive subtle, comparative 
and superlative Sutler, was an acceptable ety- 
mologic formula in many varieties of North 
American broken English. That was a period 
famous for the wild coinage of phraseologi- 
cal vacuums into available linguistic currency, 
and for the mad massacre of innocent idi- 
oms. If this formula is incorrect it should be 
promptly amended by some of the back-easty 
opinion architects who now lead public senti- 
ment with a stub-pointed pen, in long-dis- 
tance controversies with hired prevaricators 
of a capitalistic press out in Idaho, such as 
write their articles on birch bark and wear a 
coat only on legal holidays. We can not al- 
ways trust the future, especially at our age. 
94 



THE SUTLER 

Corrections should be made now — the able 
editors need not all speak simultaneously. 

The Sutler kept, or at least tried to keep, 
alleged articles of virtu for sale to the 
"boys," so-called, meaning the soldiers. 
With warm hearts, cold feet, flexible stom- 
achs, bashful consciences, and a perpetual 
feeling of weariness in the mouth, these 
"boys" constantly environed him from zenith 
to nadir and return. Selling was hard as 
teaching silver-tongued statesmen that clean- 
liness and godliness are contiguous. Keep- 
ing was harder than selling, and getting pay 
was hardest of all. Thus beset with hard- 
ships his lot rivaled in cheerlessness that of 
the scratcher in politics, with a wasp-waisted 
brain, a protuberant rectitude, a self-lubricat- 
ing egotism, and exactly the minimum of 
soul that serves in lieu of salt to save his car- 
cass from decay. What with shortage and 
leakage and stealage by pretended friends, 
often self-convicted like a young man with an 
indentation of corset steel in his cuffs, on the 
one hand, and imminent risk of capture by 
an alert enemy on the other hand, the Sut- 
95 



THE SUTLER 

ler's stock in trade was rather more uncertain 
than the salivary aim of a sociable Virginian. 

The causes, incidents and results of the war 
in which he was a stockholder with personal 
liability, though not a managing director, 
were momentous to him as to all mankind, 
including such as still gnash their teeth over 
him and revile his memory. It was a turning 
point in the progress of a race ; the culmina- 
tion of a long series of political events ; the 
breaking down of an extended line of politi- 
cal compromises futile as an attempt to com- 
bine finance with faro; the upheaval of a 
mountainous aggregation of suppressed polit- 
ical forces ; the explosion of a mighty reser- 
voir of hidden political combustibles ; and in 
its attendant events, as well as its remote con- 
sequences, it was as tremendous a revolution 
as any which freights the records of human 
destiny. This must be remembered to the 
Sutler's credit as he drifts off into the subse- 
quently. 

It was a vast army. Why, its brass but- 
tons alone weighed over a thousand tons ! 
No Sutler was ever drafted into that army. 
96 



THE SUTLER 

Hence no Sutler ever hired a substitute and 
afterward suffered reproach for failure to 
weave immortelles around his sarcophagus. 
He could not wait for the draft ; the last thing 
he desired was a substitute. He wanted to 
go himself. He volunteered early and often, 
with visible alacrity and enthusiasm. He 
frequently tumbled over himself in his eager- 
ness to move the previous question, and blas- 
phemed his own folly with plunging-shot 
fierceness a little later. As the. aborigine 
exchangeth wampum for small-pox, silk hat 
and delirium tremens, so the sanguine Sutler 
often parted with peace of mind for very 
inadequate consideration. Rosy were his 
dreams of rolling, gloating wealth ; cruel his 
awakening to the paralyzing verity. Frailty, 
thy name is fortune ! Only an expert can 
distinguish between an asset and a liability. 

Acquit him in advance of hypocrisy and 
thus clarify the record. Money was his 
avowed objective, the richly upholstered goal 
of his solicitude, — money, even if merely ac- 
cumulated for division among the lawyers re- 
tained to break a will, as too frequently event- 
97 



THE SUTLER 

uates. For him one crowded shower of glo- 
rious gold was worth a whole aurora borealis 
of golden glory, earned at thirteen dollars a 
month and half rations. Others might fight 
battles or write ballads for his country ; he 
was content to peddle its "Thomas and Jer- 
emiah" fluid in flat tin cans, surreptitious, 
villainous, and expensive. Others might 
stand like Sheridan at Stone's river, holding 
his division amidst a cyclone of shotted flame ; 
he only asked a front seat at the pay table. 
Others might manage the finances of a nation 
and temper wind to shorn shams ; he only 
petitioned that Sutler's checks be made full 
legal tender in his military division. Others 
might yearn or pretend to yearn for bleeding 
wounds and storied busts ; sufficient unto him 
was two hundred per cent, profit on cove oys- 
ters of antiquity. Like a fashionable belle, 
his heart was always in the right place — the 
market place. Honor and fame from no 
such conditions rise. 

Pardonable then was his wrath when edi- 
bles and potables disappeared unpaid for into 
parts unknown save to the Latin tongue, 
98 



THE SUTLER 

whence they could be recovered only by the 
gentle persuasion of a stomach pump. Thus 
the yellow coinage of his rapt preliminary 
visions faded incomprehensibly into nothing- 
ness. Thus he emulated the survivors of a 
cholera epidemic who only hear in happy 
dreams the footsteps of return. Give him 
air ! He had cause for chagrin equal to that 
of the Senegambian colony with a new coon in 
town and no heat hot enough to roast a ' possum . 
He had a right to grow apoplectic with fury 
and devastate the camp like a commercial 
maelstrom or a political avalanche. He 
righteously resented; he piously protested. He 
were a craven else, and the heir and ancestor 
of cravens. Do you laugh at him? So did 
Sarah laugh at the angels, but they laughed 
last 

That the Sutler's gallantry in action was 
specially exemplified in a "charge," is a 
chestnut bald and hoary with unchallenged 
longevity. It is one of those remarks that 
vegetate through a sequence of drowsy cen- 
turies, to reappear during each spring season 
of chronology with a masterful reach that 
99 



THE SUTLER 

brushes cobwebs from the skies and topples 
chimneys down. Representative war-humor- 
ists who ride astride the whistHng winds, 
spurting effluent sluices of word-wash, and 
typical war orators sorely afflicted with en- 
gorgement of vocabulary, combine to exploit 
this moldy scintillation, joint product of 
brain sweat and elbow unguent. They talk 
through their chapeaux. Every man is a 
quotation from his forefathers. Every pun is 
a quotation from paleocrystic cerebration. As 
vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, 
so is misprint witticism to the properly in- 
structed intelligence. It is wicked to laugh 
at a bishop ; it is criminal to laugh at jokeless 
jocularity. He who can separate eloquence 
from the gastric gases and distinguish be- 
tween the sharps and flats of faceticB, sup- 
pressing his intellectual impatience at the 
unbridled linguistic solecism, may pertinently 
ask: Wherefore not? To charge was hu- 
man, but to collect was sublime; always dif- 
ficult, often impossible. The credit a Sutler 
was obliged to give was often as long as a 
plea in chancery. He was the old man not 

lOO 



THE SUTLER 

afraid of eternity; and the prospective ex- 
tended term of payment, if happily payment 
should ever come at all, was a prime element 
in adjusting margins of profit. His sole com- 
petitor in this line of making a charge is said 
to be the modern plumber — he of the slow 
step and quick respiration redolent of raw 
onions — he of the small tenderness and large 
bill. But that is a chestnut musty as the 
other. Boycott both of them ! Only a man 
of most stomachful and gunpowder, instincts, 
a warrior and a blood-quaffer from aforetime, 
could long survive the rueful infliction of 
either. 

Although war without a Sutler would have 
been a barren ideality, worse than politics 
without the negro, or the free coiner, or the 
prohibitionist not taxed, yet even with him 
there was a not infrequent flaw in its felicities. 
The fact may even at this late day be duly 
verified by numerous surviving old soldiers, 
that when he was wanted he was seldom 
there, and when he was there he seldom had 
what was wanted. Milk for babes; skim 
milk for pigs and calves ; buttermilk for dys- 
lOI 



THE SUTLER 

peptic opulence. Beverages more pungent, 
searching and responsive were in demand at 
tiie Sutler's tent. He trafficked within com- 
plex circumscriptions; always threatened 
with craft and rapacity; always perspiring 
with fear like the marble statues in Rome at 
the approach of Hannibal ; always liable to be 
welcomed with bloody hands to an inhospi- 
table calamity. No country cross-roads 
grocer's assortment was his, reeking with pes- 
tiferous perfume of salt fish and sauerkraut; 
filling the air with a duchess of limburger 
reminiscence, which was liable to cause the 
effigy of freedom on her mountain height to 
experience a very tired feeling. The etiquette 
of war and the eternal laws of military necessity 
governed his movements and halts, his sta- 
tions and stock, his buying and selling. None 
of the syrupy sweetness and languid trickle of 
spring poetry voiced his experiences, tempt- 
ing to practices incompatible with the pro- 
fessions of one who desires to lead an earnest 
life. The list of his permissibles embraced 
a varied miscellany of non-desiderata , vast as 
the outfit of the greatest show on this or any 
102 



THE SUTLER 

Other earth. The catalogue of contraband 
exhibited numberless objects of universal al- 
lurement. Peradventure his lockers held six 
gross of pale pills for pink people (no buyer) ; 
meantime his patrons clamored for cheese, 
cheese, when there was no cheese; not a 
microbe. Marvel not that wrath accumulated 
and men bewailed — some men never do get 
through teething. 

Thus the irony of his fortune was more 
bitter than the jollity of a wake, with the 
corpse lying in state next door. While pop- 
ular articles were quickly sold or stolen, the 
residuary stuff, howling abominations which 
none would buy or steal, lingered flyblown or 
fermenting. They were satirized and flouted 
by the dullest varlets in the regiment, who 
were notably afflicted with Ananias -and- 
Sapphira paresis, and to whom life's solemnest 
solemnities were a grimace and a grin. 'Tis 
ever thus, for human nature has been the 
same since the earliest ages began develop- 
ing a monogram mania, when the sons of the 
stars first fascinated the daughters of men. 
Every true and honorable mob always holds 

8 103 



THE SUTLER 

in scornful contempt each simplest symbol of 
constituted authority, especially when consti- 
tuted by itself. Even so, all genuine sol- 
diers felt obliged to fleer and jeer at every- 
thing hidden or concealed in that cavern of 
despair wherein our hero reigned. They 
gave him the marble heart in the loud three- 
em dash newspaper style of emphasis. They 
swore by the dorsal fins of a planked white 
fish that he was a paroxysmal, flamboyant 
fraud, and showered on him weird variations 
of the standard oriental malediction; may 
his countenance be inverted diagonal-wise, 
and donkeys browse on his grandmother's 
grave .' They floated him to perdition hourly 
on the brimstone vapors of their anathema, 
and soon beckoned him back again in the re- 
naissance of their whetted appetite. Then he 
assumed a fictitious importance, sufficient in- 
deed in more recent times to have almost en- 
titled him to arrive at a New York hotel. 

Probably no Sutler's stock was ever sub- 
mitted to the critical and crucial operation of 
an inventory, presided over by an expert ac- 
countant's freshly laundered mustache, and 
104 



THE SUTLER 

cold, cruel, thin-lipped smile. The variety 
of such an inventory would be as attractive 
as that of the village landlord's menu — ram, 
lamb, sheep and mutton. Its metaphysics 
would be unique as a bi-metallic understudy ; 
its mathematics only less recondite than a 
census of the baccilli encysted in the buzzard's 
beak on a standard dollar, mintage of 'eighty- 
one. An exhaustive attempt, at the present 
day, to remedy this omission would certainly 
involve serious risk of undue spiritual exhil- 
aration and intellectual intoxication. But a 
partial list, achieved at any specified stage of 
a vigorous campaign, would have read some- 
thing like this : 

Wooden combs and Mexican spurs. 

Gutta-percha bivalves (cove). 

Pretzels — prophetic of the hard, hard times 
which marked an era of Hoke Smith and Dink 
Botts statesmanship. 

Effete cigars, bunch-grass filling, wrapped 
in genuine Havana onion leaves at Wethers- 
field, in the state of Connecticut. 

Plug tobacco advanced in ossification. 

Smoking ditto, premonitory of asbestos; 
105 



THE SUTLER 

infinite in capacity for provocation ; imitating 
in incombustibility the sullen defiance of a 
dead, cold epigram. 

Epsom salts. 

Smoked herring, also salt. 

Gingerbread, composted chiefly of sawdust, 
coal slack, tar, syrup and chopped feed. 

Joke books, solemn as the summersault of 
the trick elephant in his dotage. 

Cookies, tough enough to be handed down 
as heirlooms to the Weary Waggleses of 
futurity. 

Rancid sardines, to be swallowed fin and 
scale, head and tail. 

Pistol cartridges, watch keys, jack-knives, 
pills, and lead pencils conspicuous chiefly for 
brittleness, 

Bologna sausages of the conglomerate era, 
petrified; like our glorious Union, invincible 
and indivisible. 

Engine-turned pickles, submerged in car- 
bolic acid and frosted with vitriol crystals; 
positively antiscorbutic. 

Incohesive tooth-brushes cut loose from 
their base of supplies. 

1 06 



THE SUTLER 

Long clay pipes after the form aesthetically 
affected by the honest Hollander, bibulous, 
amphibious and narcotic. 

Dry figs and wormy raisins, savory as the 
juice of hard tack or tent-pin syrup. 

Anonymous liquid perdition in sneaking 
disguises, which, judged by its taste, was a 
cheap grade of spiritus strychniti, but judged 
by its price was molten pearl diluted with dis- 
solved diamond. 

Sundries, etc., etc. 

Supposed necessaries of luxurious military 
existence some of these, more or less urgent 
even when subsisting on the enemy. In that 
case the conversion by assimilation of Confed- 
erate provender into Yankee bone and sinew 
was a delicious, romantic, patriotic, praise- 
worthy function. The patriots rather enjoyed 
this process, but they welcomed assistance 
from the foregoing catalogue. 

Many articles were purchasable only in 
those /^5/-pay-day periods when the center 
of financial gravity had been shifted by the 
exigencies of chuck-a-luck and old sledge 
from many pockets to one. It is an eminent- 
107 



THE SUTLER 

\y usable list, resources permitting. Few of 
the impracticable inutilities of dollar stores or 
charity bazaars lift here their suspected forms, 
requiring us to exhaust all statutory and com- 
mon-law remedies against conspiracy to do 
great bodily harm. Few of the f rabbles are 
seen which adorn and dignify the dress-suit 
breakfast given by smirking domestic snobs 
to a titled foreign fraud, unintelligible as a 
Blavatsky theosophist. Yet even these, to 
the insatiate askers of the bivouc, would 
never quite suffice. Do what he could, the 
Sutler was ever fated to get himself disliked. 
A boy is a series of accidents at best Some 
of the recruits in their haste to enlist forgot 
to provide themselves with a girl to leave be- 
hind. Those persons, unnerved by the be- 
wildering entanglements of Hardee's tactics, 
and with no restorative compensations, were 
never satisfied. They were iron-jawed steam- 
talkers of calamity, perpetually assailing the 
walls of rebellion with huge explosions of 
wrath, and the flaps of the Sutler's tent with 
the roar of their grumbling. Deafening was 
their clamor f-or some absent staple to which 
io8 



THE SUTLER 

distance lent the deceptive enchantment of a 
dining-car menu ; deep their dismay that it 
was not held perennially on tap. Providence, 
assisted by timely hints from the wagon mas- 
ter, sometimes brought the supply trains 
within speaking distance by flag signal. But 
no discoverable influence ever succeeded in 
keeping a Sutler's stock up to high-water 
mark of gustatory demand. And all was in 
the ultimate cooked down to dire alternative 
of buy (or steal) and have, or do without 
and gnaw a file and swear. 

As a rule the radiant and responsive Sutler 
embarked on his voyage militant with more 
or less capital and credit to back up the spirit 
of acquisitiveness which possessed him with 
all its quenchless inflammation. They were 
either his own, or that of the silent partner 
who procured his appointment, mayhap a 
modest and mouse-colored statesman from 
the remote suburbs, but whose identity was a 
secret between himself and high heaven. 
Both capital and credit were prone to evanes- 
cence equal to that of the pungent delicacy 
called quinine, sole sworn antidote to innu- 
109 



THE SUTLER 

merable gastric plagues. They oozed as 
oozed insurgent hopes when Vicksburg fell, 
and the Confederacy, like the vail of Solo- 
mon's temple, was rent in twain. A balance 
sheet after one year's multiplication of tribu- 
lation, if the victim managed to survive that 
long, would usually disclose, on the one side, 
liabilities to the full extent of capital plus 
credit as aforesaid, the latter perhaps pitted 
with very large small-pox scars. On the 
other side was an array of dubious assets, 
embracing chiefly a tattered tent, a shattered 
wagon and a battered team, five hundred 
pounds of scorned sundries, sour and fusty, 
together with a fat ledger-full of " charges" 
against the killed, wounded and missing, who 
by a mysterious fatality had been his largest 
if not his only patrons. Hence this vexation 
that made him say things innocent youth 
should not be permitted to hear. Hence 
those tears, scalding even the nickel-steel ar- 
mor of his cheeks. Therefore those sobs, 
soulful as if wrung from the viscera of a six- 
teen-dollar melodeon. Who hath hoarseness 
of voice? The tearful penitent afflicted with 
no 



THE SUTLER 

mouth-gout and knee-failure on the morning 
after a debauch ; he speaks in muffled tones 
suggestive of a chastening headache. Who 
hath redness of eyes? Surely he that tarry- 
eth long over a Sutler's trial balance, conse- 
crated to the apotheosis of infinitesimals. 

The Sutler was subject to a military disci- 
pline varying from the fierce precision of a 
Springfield rifle to the grotesque, picturesque 
and variegated eccentricities of an Austrian 
musket. He ranked a trifle lower than a 
mule, but a fraction higher than a corporal. 
In that principally, if mislaid or lost in action, 
he did not need to be officially accounted 
for in the returns like a mule, and would have 
slightly better prospects than a cprporal of 
posthumous mutilation as to cognomen in the 
telegrams. The law recognized him and or- 
ders shielded him. That was theory. The 
veterans jeered at him as at the inexpressibly 
uncouth antics of the drafted raw disciple; 
everybody kicked and cursed and plundered 
him. That was practice. The difference 
was palpable as a headlight scarfpin ; start- 
ling as the butcher's bill after a charge on 
III 



THE SUTLER 

repeating rifle pits ; significant as the evolu- 
tion of a human female form divine from cow- 
skin frock and burlap leggins of semi-savag- 
ery to high-shouldered polka-dot robings of 
advanced civilization — further exalted with a 
laudable ambition to improve the breed of 
pug puppies. 

The Sutler had no status on parade, re- 
view or inspection. In the small tinkle and 
smear of preparatory smatter which preluded 
these symbolic mummeries, grewsome as 
tableaux of Chicago option matrimony (three 
years with the privilege of five), he was totally 
ignored. He was out of date like the hot bis- 
cuit of our ancestors with its yellow saleratus 
pungency — an auriferous bichloride of alkali. 
He was forgotten ; full satisfaction guaranteed. 
When the long wavy or waveless tangent of 
bayonets, rustless or rusty as the case might be, 
stood forth aligned by a tempestuous adju- 
tant with gestures mysterious and masonic, 
the unobtrusive Sutler, clothed in clouds of 
invisibility, affronted no tenderness of occult 
proprieties by any tangible revelation. He 
was out of sight, like the costumes of Tyrolean 
112 



THE SUTLER 

peasantry, variegated with macaroni braid- 
ings. He was absent, conferring perhaps with 
some ragged Haggard from Coxeyville; 
terms private and no questions asked. When 
ambidextrous battaHons broke by right of 
companies to the rear into column, and, emu- 
lating the conscious mastery of a Sampson 
hiving his mellifluous swarm in the lion's 
lordly breast, swept past the statuesque chief 
of review with resistless swing and strides in- 
vincible, he marched not ! He sat in seclu- 
sion like the stage manager of a bicycle 
tournament; he rested in abeyance, scorched 
with scorn and broiling on hot epithets, in 
the stratified attitude of a listener trying to 
hear himself cogitate; he waited patiently, 
vibrating from gay to grave, from saucy to 
sincere; he lingered; no presents, no flowers. 
When the reckless inspector snapped hammers 
and jingled rammers and squinted inquisitively 
into muskets' murderous mouths, our friend 
the Sutler, profoundly versed in the precious- 
ness of cautiousness, was nowhere seen. There 
was no hayseed in his brain ; there were no 
flies on his intellect. With just enough body, 
113 



THE SUTLER 

perhaps, to serve as pretext for a soul to stay 
on earth, his great head was crowded from pit 
to dome with prudence. He had read of pre- 
mature explosions and was satisfied ; he had 
no wish to be wounded by an accidental dis- 
charge of his duty ; to him eyesight was a poem 
and each finger a benediction ; he was brave to 
recklessness, but even his minor members were 
precious; he blew into no muzzles, for safety 
is sweeter than fame; children half price. 
The most startling of all war reminiscences 
perhaps was that revealed in far northern Mich- 
igan more than twenty years after Lee's sur- 
render. A party of skaters built huge bon- 
fires on thick ice and finally thawed out an 
imprisoned echo of bellum days, which cried 
impressively with the broad, plaintive, quer- 
ulous, rebel accent of long ago: "All we 
want is to be let alone ! ' ' This current Con- 
federate shibboleth expressed the luminous 
Sutler's abiding desire. Even when brass 
music stormed the camp as with whiffs of can- 
ister and grape, deluging all ears in torrents 
of harmonious discord, he failed to materialize. 
Suspicious of invidious comparison with the 
114 



THE SUTLER 

bluff drum major's majestic gorgeousness, he 
relieved the strain by withdrawing the infec- 
tious pestilence of his overshadowing person- 
ality. He vanished like a beautiful dream ; 
relatives might call and learn something to 
their advantage. There were different opin- 
ions as to his whereabouts — but then it is dif- 
ference of opinion that supports pool rooms 
as well as church choirs. Concord and dis- 
cord were alike unheeded. The drum's glum 
rumble; the mighty trombone''s round, re- 
echoed roar; the feeble fierceness of cracked 
clarionet; the hissing tortures of the tormented 
horn tuned to the shrieks of lacerated souls ; 
the witchbroth symphony from eye of newt 
and nose of frog and bar of gospel hymn that 
drips in blistering spirals out of tone-shatter- 
ing fifes; the ghastly ground-swell's undertone 
that floats this fumid wreckage of assassinated 
sound upon its bleeding bosom — all these 
and other aggravated vibratory horrors 
searched for him vainly in the nooks and 
corners of a disgusted atmosphere. He was 
gone ; front seats reserved for friends of the 
family. 

115 



THE SUTLER 

Hence when, if ever, the Sutler shall be 
monumentalized in imperishable staff, it will 
be in none of those attitudes spectacular. An 
attitude of watchfulness, of expectancy, of 
expostulation, or of despair like one in last 
stages of the Baconian theory, were nearest 
truth to nature. The flashing outbreaks of 
his fiery mind, the sorrows of his overloaded 
heart, no carven stone or molded bronze can 
portray to skeptical contemporaries, or trans- 
mit to an undeserving, unbelieving posterity. 

If the post of danger is the post of real 
honor, the Sutler has been scandalously over- 
looked in all awards. His assigned position 
at the rear during an advance, and in front 
during a retreat, fatally exposed him to dep- 
redations of the mixed society indigenous 
thereto. Encompassed with perils, a floating 
Atlantis mislaid in a cannibal archipelago, his 
only resource was rat-eyed vigilance and 
brass-breasted audacity. A recital of his ex- 
ploits in defending the citadel wherein his 
precious perishables lay would shine with the 
story of Farragut lashed to a mast, or Hooker 
bombarding rainbows, a veritable torch-light 
ii6 



THE SUTLER 

procession down the dark avenues of history. 
Painting him in gaudy hues would be as unaes- 
thetic as offering green goggles to a Delsarte 
club. But a mild touch of eulogy, a harmless 
ginger-pop effervescence of panegyric, may 
supposedly be ventured before we throw him 
on the tender mercies of posterity. Would 
Sir Patrick's famed toast to the "bloody 
69th " — " The last in the field and the first 
to leave it; equal to none!" pass muster? 
If so, who will begrudge ? None, we defi- 
antly aver, unless it be some surviving ma- 
rauder, overloaded with bias and twisted with 
prejudice until his withers are wrung, who 
once wore a half-shaved head for Sutler- 
burglary, then trod the brambly path of hu- 
miliation out of camp to the tune of ' ' Rogue's 
March," while sad breezes sighed through 
rents in his respectability. 

What a magnificent army that was, in 
which we served — one of the grandest in nu- 
merical strength, by far the grandest in its 
intelligence, its achievements and its inspira- 
tion, whereof the world holds record. 

Ninus of Assyria, 2200 B. C, led against 
117 



THE SUTLER 

the Bactrians a force of 1,700,000 foot, 200,- 
000 horse, and 16,000 chariots armed with 
scythes. 

Cyrus besieged Babylon with 600,000 foot 
and 120,000 horse, 

Italy, a little before Hannibal's time, was 
able to send into the field nearly 1,000,000 
men. Yet Hannibal, during his campaign in 
Italy and Spain, plundered 400 towns and de- 
stroyed 300,000 people. 

When Xerxes arrived at Thermopylae his 
force by land and sea aggregated 2,641,610, 
according to Herodotus, a weighty worthy 
man, and worth his weight in sesterces. 

January i, 1861, the army of the United 
States consisted of nineteen regiments of all 
arms, numbering, present and absent, 16,402 
officers and men. From April i, 1 861, to 
April 28, 1865, a monthly average of 56,000 
men, a large army in itself, was recruited, 
equipped and supplied for the volunteer forces. 
At the last-named date 1,034,064 volunteers, 
after four years' casualties of war, were act- 
ually in the service. From first to last 2,678,- 
967 men were mustered in, constituting 1,668 
118 



THE SUTLER 

regiments of infantry, 232 of cavalry and 52 
of artillery — total 1,952 regiments. In three 
months, from May 7th to August 7th, 1865, 
a total of 640,806 troops were mustered out 
of service and restored to the ranks of pro- 
ductive citizenship. The cost of the war to 
the United States government has been meas- 
ured in money at $3,963,159,751.15. The 
states in rebellion aggregated an area of 733,- 
144 square miles, with 12,572 miles of navi- 
gable rivers, 2,523 miles of sea coast and 
7,031 miles of inland boundary. 

With these facts for a basis we may, if 
courageous, institute comparisons with the 
great events of history. Courage is essential. 
A page of fulminating statistics is as dangerous 
to the unwary as a loaded gun-boat floating 
with the current, cocked, capped and aimed 
below the water line. In a village ignorant 
of the science of the division of labor, one 
may get his child christened by the same 
artist who repaired his boots. In certain lo- 
calities one may revel, so to speak, in the 
enjoyments of a broad phase of humor, based 
on fried onions, carbolized tar and commodi- 
9 119 



THE SUTLER 

ties of that sort, or of a broad plane of 
sociability, based on plug tobacco, pint flasks 
and discussion of dog pedigrees. But in the 
higher realms of statistics, and other like re- 
searches, success depends upon the cultiva- 
tion of devoted courage, courageous fortitude, 
and a subtle intellectuality intricate as the 
distorted diagram on the face of a moss 
agate. 

Fenimore Cooper depicts the army Sutler 
of the Revolutionary contest as a woman; 
habitually Irish; rubicund, snuffy, blasphem- 
ous and addicted to gin — in brief an object of 
charity, socially and pecuniarily. She can 
be fitted out, without violence to probability, 
with an eye like a cross-section of hard boiled 
egg, and the shallow retreating brow of an 
ibex; also with cotton in her ears. Her 
clothing might easily have been fished out at 
random from a box of contributions to hail- 
storm sufferers. Her coquettish, curly locks 
were doubtless of oakum texture and solferino 
tinge. This much is conjectural, for when 
we read on and learn that she was the camp 
washerwoman we abandon the pursuit forth- 

I20 



THE SUTLER 

with. Like flowers that bloom in the Japan- 
ese spring, she has nothing to do with the case. 
She vanishes like a congressman (before the 
czar era) constructively absent ivhen a quo- 
rum is to be burst. The Sutler of our more 
refined war period was of the man masculine. 
No woman could have filled this requisition, 
even in those days of Brigham Young's multi- 
wife propaganda. No woman could have 
fought the good fight and kept the stock in 
such a crisis, even with her trousseau reduced 
to a calico basis. Where languorous lilies fill 
the eye with beauty, let the gentler sex abide. 
A woman in our Sutler's sphere would have 
been more useless than the horse that sustains 
superannuated relations to a fire department. 
She would have been more expensive than the 
funeral of a deceased statesman charged to 
the contingent fund ; more dangerous than a 
damp basement. During twenty centuries, 
while among men the glorious Roman has 
degenerated into the monkey-tamer, woman, 
on the contrary, has greatly advanced. And 
the advanced woman has apparently come to 
stay. The ethereal creature who succumbed 

121 



THE SUTLER 

to tight lacing has vanished. A stronger, 
sterner class succeed. The manly miss comes 
forward, and her demands are something 
sumptuous. Nothing less than the manda- 
rin's full yellow jacket and peacock feather 
will suffice. But the most fluent champion of 
uplifted femininity never dared to rise with a 
whir to claim this dizzy pre-eminence of a 
Sutlership. The cut of her garments maybe 
virile and chic, still she aspired not so high. 
The bravest of meat-stall heroines, with slaugh- 
ter-house eyes and leaf-lard complexion, may 
declaim suffrage syllogisms with the witchery 
of a South Missouri angel, and her young 
man may tear his hair in angry anguish at the 
thought, but Sutlerships transcend the am- 
bition of both. 

Of the man masculine was our Sutler. Not 
a woman. Neither a dude. No gallon of 
gall in a plaid suit, owed for, could have 
endured, for one short seething, scorching 
month, these multiplex ordeals of catastrophe. 
At the current quadrennial round-up of aspi- 
rants, when the internal revenue bung-smeller 
parades his political scars, the dude is some- 

122 



THE SUTLER 

times seen — in the Sutler's tent never. He 
would have suffered all the agonies of a bul- 
lock threatened with corn-cob strangulation, 
and no compensatory convictions. It were 
better to be staked out in the legislative 
vestibule as custodian of cuspidors. We have 
been generous in extending the elective fran- 
chise to naturalized citizens and all who 
declare their intention to become such — prob- 
ably too generous. We have encouraged 
foreign nations to work off their damaged 
and unsalable goods on us, in the immigrant 
line, as in other lines. But we have never 
been cruel. We have pitied the sorrows of 
our rich young man. We have certainly 
never been cruel enough to expose our help- 
less, inferior fellow-creatures, those curled 
darlings of dandydom, to vicissitudes like that 
of the Sutlership. That were an infamy fit to 
make the green goods gouge and the gold brick 
trick eminently respectable by comparison. 
Dudes have their function. So have train- 
boys and other calamities. So have rose 
sherbet and chewing gum ; so have lambre- 
quins and doilies. But not in war time. 
123 



THE SUTLER 

Neither they nor any other gin-fizz efferves- 
cence of intangible ephemera. Their fate in 
such surroundings would be sad as that of the 
tough but meritorious army mule, who sur- 
vived all war's perils, and thirty years later 
shattered his hind leg, from hoof to hip, on 
the chin of a traveling highwines apostle from 
Louisville. There was absolutely no place 
for the dude in our army life. The velvet of 
his voice would speedily roughen. One week 
of hard bread would ruin his teeth; one day's 
rasp of the wind would utterly devastate his 
complexion. The rural visitor who begins his 
city experiences by being piloted to a bunco 
bank, and ends them by being piloted to a 
pawn-shop, would encounter no more swift, 
inglorious career. The horrors of the zero 
season are intensified when the man with a 
cold in his head insists on discussing financial 
issues with us at every turn. The inconven- 
iences of army life were pronounced enough, 
as it was, without the further infliction of the 
dreadful dude, in Sutler's trains or elsewhere. 
Nay, verily! This small erratum of nature, 
this insectiverous insignificance, had no place 
124 



THE SUTLER 

or function there. Heredity endowed him 
with an intellect requiring a three months' 
vacation four times a year, and fate left him 
to the full enjoyment thereof. Fortunately 
for the credit of this nation the rebellion was 
efficiently and sufficiently suppressed without 
his infinitesimal assistance. 

It is a sad and significant fact that the 
navy had no Sutlers. The sailors and ma- 
rines missed the picturesque inspiration of his 
ministering service ; the exuberant and peren- 
nial freshness of his presence ; the sounding 
brass of his tickling symbols. Our surviving 
web-footed compatriots modestly demand 
that due recognition be accorded their im- 
portant branch of the belligerent forces. In 
making and enforcing claims to our attention, 
their honest clamor fills the sea-coast air, 
from Greenland's icy icebergs to Charleston's 
shifting sands. And they have right. Did 
not each base of our supplies rest on a water- 
way patrolled by gunboats? Were not all 
our armies named from streams along which 
their fraternal tin-clads trolleyed and thun- 
dered? Was not brave Jack always ready, 
125 



THE SUTLER 

manning the yards, when we fell back for re- 
inforcements, and the like, to receive us with 
three cheers and a Dartmouth yell? Did not 
the Monitor, that grand old frigate, without a 
sail, a mast, a rope, a stem, a stern, a yard- 
arm or a bowsprit, steam straight into the 
core of our hearts, and ram her chilled steel 
nostrils far and away into the realms of his- 
toric muse? 

The naval veteran of to-day, working his 
chin industriously to keep his teeth tight and 
vigorously dodging as best he may the wiles 
of the world, the flesh and the politicians, 
complains at times that scant allusion crops 
out in war reunions to episodes wherein he 
figures lustrously. Here let full justice be 
freely done. For Farragut and Foote and 
Porter, for Dupont, Dahlgren, and a hun- 
dred more, and all their thousands of de- 
voted, daring shipmates, let honors thicken 
with the passing years, and glories brighten 
as the centuries roll on ! The same glad im- 
pulse burned within their breasts; the same 
great triumphs gilded their endeavor. Their 
manners and methods differed widely from 
126 



THE SUTLER 

ours, but in aim and motive we are one. It 
is their good fortune never to have known 
how much they lost in having not the solace 
of the Sutler. It was not their fault. 

The young recruit, christened Zephaniah, 
was not responsible therefor, because he ex- 
perienced his origin at a period when he was 
powerless to direct results. If good people 
would only learn to vote as they pray, it 
might possibly be diiferent. But let even a 
marine run up against a brace game in Dead 
Man's Gulch, and permanent enlightenment 
is liable to eventuate. And when the atmos- 
phere of our homes grows mephitic with the 
odor of Satanic journalism, we may perhaps 
awaken to the danger of cultivating depravi- 
ties that are calculated to stimulate a boom in 
the brimstone market. 

Connecticut produced a learned pig which 
could read; New York, not to be outdone, 
exhibits some educated donkeys that can 
write, that can even edit newspapers, have 
done it, have been caught in the very act, and, 
alas, seem inclined to boast of it. When such 
things can be, and overcome us like a sum- 
127 



THE SUTLER 

mer sunshade, why marvel that the navy had 
no Sutler? If a shattered and battered son of 
the sea comes forward now and then to bask 
in the glow of that comradeship we so fondly 
cherish, let us bid him jolly welcome. In 
that long period which elapsed between the 
dates when President Jefferson Davis was cap- 
tured in confidential costume and President 
Grover Cleveland escaped from the congres- 
sional trocha, our people were steadily but 
very slowly growing to an appreciation of 
their numerous blessings. During this period 
many a stranded ex-sailor found himself filled 
with the vague unrest of a rural legislator 
who for the first time carries a railroad pass 
in his pocket. The yearning for travel was 
irresistable. He has thus projected himself 
into the sphere of our observation as far in- 
land as Indianapolis or Omaha. If we have 
not seized the opportunity to thank him for 
Hampton Roads, and Mobile Bay, and Fort 
Saint Phillip and Pittsburg Landing and Fort 
Fisher, for New Orleans and Pensacola and 
Galveston, we have ignored a binding obliga- 



128 



THE SUTLER 

tion and neglected a golden opportunity. 
Let us ignore, neglect no longer. 

We yield him full measure of credit. We 
regret more than words can express that he 
never enjoyed the felicity of having a Sutler. 
If one were accessible he should be intro- 
duced to him, even now! 

The impression which seems to be some- 
what currently prevalent, in circles usually 
well informed on financial topics, that many 
of the largest fortunes of our present era were 
founded on the war-profits of army Sutlers, 
is manifestly erroneous. It is at all times 
easier to get poor in a minute than rich in a 
month, according to one of the wise saws of 
the transcendental orientals. The wealthy 
widow who has wasted her substance in riot- 
ous trolley parties can verify it. Fortunes 
have originated in the profits of army con- 
tracts, judiciously invested in well-slanted real 
estate at Pittsburg or Cincinnati. Their in- 
heritors have perhaps reached congress where 
they speak speeches prescribed for them by a 
scrivener. Upon the condemned horses of 
the thrifty quartermaster, or sunken cargoes 
129 



THE SUTLER 

of costly oats duly accounted for by econom- 
ical commissaries, mysteriously materializing 
later in tangible cash, large estates have been 
based. They were mostly dissipated there- 
after by extensive land-purchases in remote 
regions notable chiefly for a particularly brazen 
sky and a specially mean annual temperature, 
where the prairie dog yelps to his or her mate 
as the case may be, sole disturbers of all the 
dismal silence in nature's vast immensity. 

Even the sumptuous pay of the pampered 
and envied private soldiers, the magnificent 
stipend of thirteen dollars a month equal to 
an average of at least six dollars in the pre- 
cious gold of that period, was sometimes duly 
hoarded at compound interest. This, with 
occasional mining stock speculations on the 
side, may have rolled up in the course of a 
generation to that standard of affluence which 
glitters with hope of dowry to dudes or ali- 
mony to divorce lawyers. Believe it ye who 
can; assert it ye who dare. It would not be 
incredible. The first kiss, alas ! often leads 
to more. 

Balder fictions have found credence at the 
130 



THE SUTLER 

chrysanthemum club, where the lack luster 
eye of the effete plunger gazes into the gurg- 
ling optic of the breadstuff debauchee, and 
where harvesting a royal flush is the leading 
industry. Wilder improbabilities were widely 
swallowed before the Russian Israelites landed 
on our coast and introduced their rich nut- 
brown flavor to the ward caucus, together with 
the corrugated spirituality of a bethel-vocalist 
and the vulcanized nerve of a Tammany lead- 
er. Statements like those might pass current 
in village drug stores, where streams of limpid, 
scented crystal burst forth from marbleized 
iron fountains at five cents per burst. Rumors 
equally incredible have floated around un- 
challenged at recherche receptions given by 
Mrs. Olof Swenson, of the James River Val- 
ley, S. D., to the local colonial dames. Not- 
withstanding all this, such allegations as these, 
with due, determined effort, might be made 
to harmonize with possibility like a red cart 
with a sorrel mule. 

But no properly fertilized intellect can ever 
germinate a supposition that the rudiments of 
even one contemporaneous million were laid 
131 



THE SUTLER 

in the career of a Sutler. A hundred shil- 
lings invested in trade will give a man meat 
and wine; in acres it will give him cabbage 
and salt, wrote another astute Arabian — or 
mayhap the same. But the Sutler trade is a 
valid and visible exception, verified by expe- 
rience, costly as an Indian outbreak and con- 
clusive as the rebound of a London free-trade 
banquet in the wilds of West Virginia. 

Poets of every class have license to festoon 
life's oasis, et cetera, with platitudes and il- 
logical assertions. But historians, like the 
undersigned, must deal in fragments of the 
eternal verity. Even the strawberry roan ver- 
sifier of Zanesville, shouting through a hole in 
his headgear, would burst his organ of ideal- 
ity in the effort to imagine heirs for the Sutler. 
He never gave them kingdoms or dollars. 
They can not shake their crimped bangs at 
him and say he eats pie with a knife, and ab- 
sorbs soup with emphasis from the end of a 
spoon. They can not give him the cold and 
gurgling laugh — he never cultivated them be- 
yond the radius of their capacity, and en- 
dowed them with wealth beyond their powers 
132 



THE SUTLER 

of assimilation. In all the wide, wild stretch 
of liars from Ananias to Zola, none will be 
found bold enough to assert it. 

If the descendants of the Sutler are snobs 
and sneaks and shams, social swells and mor- 
al lepers, with breath sweetly perfumed and 
hearts bitter as Peruvian bark tempered with 
aloes, they owe no part of their equivocal 
character or position to the influence of wealth 
derived from him, for he had none. Thus 
by his lack of lucre to bequeath, he has 
avoided many horrible and torturing respon- 
sibilities. For a man who has been ruined 
by a woman there is no law and no judge. 
The inheritor of lightly won riches enters the 
race for success in life with a handicap 
weighty as the breech of a disabled colum- 
biad. 

Gaze not upon the red rectification of the 
illicit still ; quaff sparingly the purple vintage 
of the Iowa drug store ; yield not to tempta- 
tion at the stage of a game where the jack-pot 
boils over ; drop not your precious cash into 
the open palm of financial enthusiasts whose 
soaring souls see cloudbursts of wealth in ev- 
133 



THE SUTLER 

ery fleece of floating vapor; yield no cre- 
dence to the millionaire who boasts of his large 
inheritance from a Sutler's profits. 

As a rallying point in battle, rivaling re- 
dans, redoubts and parapets, rifle-pits, abat- 
tis and chevaux-de-frise , the Sutler's wagon 
has been apostrophized in many bursts of el- 
oquence at reunion banquets where wit and 
wine flow sparkling like the dew. When 
thrust out between contending armies by de- 
sign or accident, that modest vehicle became 
a glittering prize worth fighting for and risk- 
ing amputations for, beside which even the old 
flag paled for a space its ineffectual splurge. 

Friends, comrades who had lived together 
in the little shelter tent, slept under the same 
blanket, divided the scanty ration and drank 
from the same canteen, rallied around its 
doubtful treasures with all the swift energy of 
a benzine explosion. Foes, hungry as saw- 
tooth sharks, assailed and reassailed it, the 
rich fruition of their whetted desires. Where 
was the hilarious Sutler then with his blue- 
grass fertility of resource? Neither in that 
beleaguered thesaurus nor even entrenched 
134 




... But likeliest from safe shelter of some commodious, 
commanding stump, observing the struggle with a rural Sunday 
morning cheerfulness (Page 135) 

10 



THE SUTLER 

beneath it, you may confidingly affirm, but 
likeliest from safe shelter of some commo- 
dious, commanding stump, observing the 
struggle with a rural Sunday morning cheer- 
fulness. Like George Eliot's hero, he is 
lord of the moment's change and can charge 
it with his soul. 

The rich man unlearned in logic hires logic 
in form of a lawyer to prove anything it is 
profitable to have proven. So a Sutler, des- 
titute of arms, knows that his armed compa- 
triots will rescue his appetizing goods from the 
enemy's most ferocious onslaughts, howbeit 
but to be skinned and skimmed by them- 
selves next moment before his horror-smitten 
face, with comments recordable only in vio- 
lation of several salubrious enactments for the 
suppression of blasphemy, 

Perhaps tradition has been too caustic or 
too facetious in its treatment of the unarmed 
soldiers who honored us with their comrade- 
ship — the chaplain, the surgeon and the 
Sutler. Of the army preacher, who filled his 
sacred office worthily as many did, let due 
and reverent acknowledgment be made, in 
135 



THE SUTLER 

grateful memory of benignant functions 
purely administered; " the gowned goslings, 
who were goslings before they were gowned, ' ' 
let us in mercy and in pity commit to 
the tenderness of eternal silence. The 
typical army doctor was skillful, devoted, 
brave and self-sacrificing; at the front amid 
the blaze and storm of battle ; in the 
rear wrestling with festering wounds or 
wasting fevers and contagions; everywhere 
his welcome, hopeful features beamed in gra- 
cious blessing on us at our sorest need, and 
each of us who lives to-day can name the 
surgeon to whom that life is due. Even the 
Sutler, of whom we have been treating sub- 
jectively and perhaps too unceremoniously 
herein, when reduced to his objective individ- 
ual status, has often supplied material for illus- 
trating the highest grade of patriotic heroism. 
The Sutlership was an agency not devoid of 
utility, not without the noblest possibilities, 
by no means unworthy of honor. Let no 
poet of the war, sitting in the refreshment of 
the foliage of his phrases and sipping the 
coolness of the gases of his gall, dare ignore 
136 



THE SUTLER 

these patent, blatant truths of history. Or if 
he do, let him be doubly and trebly ware ! 
It is certain that enough scattered, incontro- 
vertible, granite bowlders of fact lie snugly 
imbedded in the conglomerate of fancy, to 
roll forward at the final round-up and ever- 
lastingly necropolize him. 

Where is the Sutler now? Vanished from 
our ken and beyond all cavil non-existent. 

History has few parallels to this absolute 
obliteration of a species. The bronzed old 
admiral emeritus is still extant, with tar on 
his heel and salt in his eyebrows. Generals 
in active service thread the German's mazes, 
agile as when in slim-waisted cadet days they 
paced flirtation walk, in all the pomp and cir- 
cumstance of glorious gray. The retired list, 
infallible patent of longevity, lifts high its 
proud engrossment of venerable colonels and 
brigadiers, spattered at times with ill-flavored 
congressional epithets and blown about by 
every breeze of statesmanship, but yielding 
still its liberal monthly stipend ; there too 
the Sutler's brief, broad, brambly service 
is unrecognized. The village boaster boast- 
137 



THE SUTLER 

eth Still his grand exploits as the sunset of life 
crowns a mystical bore. But no Sutler is here 
or there discerned. 

Our pension rolls bear names scarce short a 
million, but his holds there no objurated blaz- 
onry. Myriads of veterans luxuriate in sol- 
diers' homes, but in none of them does he, 
lingering and voluble, saturated with vis in- 
ertia, shoulder a crutch and tell how money 
never is but always to be won. When hale 
campaigners meet at non-intoxicating suppers 
where the cheers are not inebriated, and point 
to themselves with pride (who dare gainsay 
their right?), his place is but a yawning va- 
cancy. River pilots of the war era, St. Vitus 
stricken from dodging guerrilla buckshot, have 
coveted the Grand Army badge ; sons of san- 
itary heroes and of honorable women not a few 
have pleaded for the Loyal Legion's perqui- 
sites vicarious ; but no residual Sutler, nor the 
lineal progeny thereof, draws drafts like these 
on honor s ample funds. Hence there is no 
Sutler left, q. e, d. He never got left — the 
good die young. 

Seek ye his obituary in the thin cold rec- 
138 



THE SUTLER 

ords of the alms-house. Find his flat or sunk- 
en resting place in crowded silences of Pot- 
ter's fields and be therewith content. He has 
passed in his "checks." He lives now only 
as a fond and fragrant memory. 



139 



THE SHELTER TENT 




III 



USTROUS among war's 
unfading reminiscences 
shines the contour of the 
Shelter Tent It Hngers 
in memory, unique and 
delectable, dissimilar but 
equivalent to our ideal of 
those fringed silken pavilions wherein apoplec- 
tic despots of the orient air their scandalous 
magnificence amid the frockless squalor of 
their cringing hordes. 

The Shelter Tent was a supplement to the 
original scheme for putting down the rebel- 
lion — a fact, as it were, dehors the record. 
Only after Bull Run and Shiloh and Antietam 
and luka was the government nerved to the 
point of requiring its soldiery to shoulder 
140 



THE SHELTER TENT 

their houses like mollusks, and thus relieve 
the tuneful, uncomplaining mule of a sore re- 
sponsibility. 

This was an innovation whose dam was 
Necessity, and whose sire was held to be 
some emissary of Satan, with an unearned 
increment of prestige in the counsels of Hal- 
leck, general-in-chief, so-called. It was 
evolved as the molecule evolves protoplasm 
and from a plastic cell developeth primordial 
germs. Versatile scorners, voluble as advo- 
cates of artesian irrigation, promptly sched- 
uled its pedigree for generations up and 
down. Minutest of constructed residences 
for living humanity, save perhaps the half- 
credible tub of tough Diogenes, it won a way 
into our reluctant liking that vindicates its 
title to consideration among the factors of 
ultimate victory. You may pay the doctor 
to diagnose and also to prescribe, but you 
must subsidize the pharmacist before relief is 
possible. 

Most portable of mundane mansions, its 
very littleness relieved the situation of num- 
berless infelicities, — specifically, of servitude 
MI 



THE SHELTER TENT 

to servants, whether apple-cheeked daughters 
of Denmark, or saddle-colored Cantonese with 
eyes cut bias and a Pacific Mail subsidy lingo 
not on speaking terms with veracity. Like- 
wise other infelicities which relegate house- 
keeping to the level of a cantharides blister, 
and which make court corridors ring with the 
battle-cry for freedom shouted by luckless 
suitors who married in haste to repent at 
Sioux Falls. 

The Shelter Tent of the war for the Union, 
so waged, as aforementioned, is said to have 
been a French device. We shall introduce 
no evidence in rebuttal. It was unquestion- 
ably steeped to the hem in martial economics. 
It was calculated to rob a miser of all that 
life holds dear. The force of dire frugality 
could no step farther go. In the multitude 
of counselors there is distraction, for exist- 
ence, like a court-house, is full of trials. But 
all agree on this question of economy. We 
lead the world, but the French lead us in 
these little every-day parsimonies. It was 
cheap but grand. Beecher once asserted that 
flowers are the grandest things God ever made 
142 



THE SHELTER TENT 

without putting an immortal soul into them. 
Beecher had evidently at that time never 
treated his optic nerve to a vision of the use- 
ful, unobtrusive Shelter Tent. 

Woven of white cotton spun to fascine rig- 
idity, sometimes gutta-perchaed to counter- 
scarp imperviousness, its flat measurement 
but squared an average soldier's stature. 
When the whirl of recoil developed into a 
torrent of flight, it was scarcely classed with 
impedimenta. 

A weed is said to be only a plant whose 
uses have not yet been discerned. This 
square of cotton was to the unsophisticated 
military discernment first a weed, then a spear, 
then a full-grown corn in the ear — yea, verily ! 
shelled and in the sack, distilled and in the 
cut-glass decanter, with accessories duly ac- 
cessible. 

Styled ' * tent ' ' in the sardonic nomencla- 
ture of our nomadic days, it was in sober 
verity a wrap, a cape, a kirtle or a poncho, 
which only by connected duplication and re- 
duplication came within the pale of that so- 
norous title. Only ten men are permitted to 
143 



THE SHELTER TENT 

exist on earth at once competent to read 
and understand Plato. Thus precious is equi- 
hbrium in a world where the fragment of a 
donkey jaw has slain thousands. Fewer 
doubtless would divine at first blush how a 
square of cotton fabric, set down one side with 
buttons and holes to match cut opposite, could 
suffice for each warrior's allotment of habita- 
tion in embryo. Still fewer would devise, 
until Necessity, doting maternal ancestor of 
rarest constructive genius, came to compel, 
the forms and structures of abode that lay 
susceptible within that so innocent appearing 
segment of a textile web, white, friendly and 
tractable. Thus history goes on, dancing 
through the airy nothingness of experiment, 
dainty as a harebell, graceful as a fawn. 

Of what the Shelter Tent had and had not, 
commended curiosity makes now minute in- 
terrogation. It had neither veranda nor 
portico ; if offenses must come, woe to them 
whereby. No latticed porchway tempted 
humming birds to linger in its honeysuckle 
haunts. The bay-window that biteth like a 
serpent and stingeth like a cactus when the 
144 



THE SHELTER TENT 

bill comes in, was conspicuously non-existent. 
Its architectural flippancies were few indeed. 
No fluted town hall pillars nor St. Gauden's 
blush-promoting statuary decorated its blame- 
less exterior, either for botch or betterment. 
No black closets fanged with sharp hooks 
and breathing pestilent mustiness lurked in 
its dreadful depths, threatening to precipitate 
a ministerial crisis around the conjugal hearth. 

The man of far western enterprise, who 
goes forth with nothing but a few ounces of 
salt in one hand and a halter in the other to 
a career of sudden and certain prosperity, 
would sneer at a plan for his rustic villa of 
content so void of all embellishment. The 
rampant eastern egotist, saturated with pro- 
found, uncanny mysticism, would echo the 
supercilious sentiment. 

Guiltless of tapestry, even of paper tattooed 
into isosceles triangles or fretted with pea- 
fowl tintages, were its walls. Nay, vetoed 
were walls indeed, save when some mad riot 
of sumptuousness inspired an imitation of 
" society " — that medley of metaphysics and 
flirtations, of fashion, vanity, jealousy, altru- 
145 



THE SHELTER TENT 

ism, rheumatism and gastronomy which is 
principally intent on beating tom-toms and 
dodging jim-jams. Then, hoisted above its 
normal altitude, like sliding roof of clover 
rick, a rough joinery of boards or logs or turf, 
breasted it up four-square to all the gusts of 
Boreas and the moral agencies of southern 
Arkansaw. 

No door-plate shimmered, purporting, in 
gothic undecipherables gnarly as Pharaoh's 
lean kine, to name the occupant. Good 
cause, forsooth; none better! No door, on 
which a faintest shimmer could be hung, 
graced the wide frontal vacancy. Who entered 
here, though his brow were tall and his spirit 
strong, left his bon-ton behind. Style, root 
of much heart-break and hen-peck, was smit- 
ten as by the stony paw of a sphinx. Fit 
symbols of existence in this pretenseless home 
were the broken column and the gates ajar. 

Destitute also was the Shelter Tent of the 
pompous excrescence of chimneys, and their 
accessories, — of the parlor mantel, laden with 
sea-shells and aconite pellets, — of the stove in 
the guest chamber, voluble in prophecies of 
146 



THE SHELTER TENT 

smokeless combustion, unhopeful as the court- 
ing of a grass-widow with an inchoate right 
of dower to forty acres of swamp land in a 
school section, — of the hanging book-shelf, 
heavy with dull fiction and smeared with po- 
etical syrup. No chimney was there to wit- 
ness the woes of perplexed Santa Claus. No 
chimney was there to gaze with wide-eyed 
wonder on the tragedy which ensues when 
Uncle Reuben blows out the gas. No chim- 
ney was there, with open gusty grate, more 
dreary than the lignite desolation of the bad 
lands. 

Minus likewise were chandeliers, with their 
brazen sheen, — mementos of dismal experi- 
ence with colicky infants at paregoric time, — 
mementos of sweltering social hilarity, when 
perspiration is unconfined and heels smite 
corns on toes that groan again, — mementos 
of genteel functions, where pink and purple 
ice cream circulates at par, and French-plate 
diamonds flash on palpitating bosoms peril- 
ously exposed to the weather. 

Chandeliers were extinct and non-existent. 
Candles stuck in bayonets sufficed. There was 
147 



THE SHELTER TENT 

light enough for a nightly prosecution of the 
poker industry and for overproduction of the 
chestnut crop. And even after taps, when 
utter darkness reigned, there was no danger of 
bumping one's head against the upper berth. 
No walls of partition parceled off the Shel- 
ter Tent into spaces conventionalized to pecu- 
lar functions. Aristocracy of exclusion and 
seclusion there were none, but broad and lim- 
pid democracy of exposure to all curiousness, 
though searching as croton oil. Hence draw- 
ing-room, boudoir and kitchen, oratory, re- 
fectory, and lavatory were all in one. But 
only in alternation, since the contracted area 
precluded simultaneousness as well as latitudi- 
narianism. There was no disgraceful scram- 
ble for the apartment with southern exposure 
and all modern conveniences. There was lit- 
tle risk of bringing a blush of modesty to the 
veteran's bronzed and massive cheek. Par- 
titions would have been useless as a pop 
factory in the bluegrass region. Each tenant 
was the peer in imperturbability of a male 
divorcee in Connecticut, digging clams to 
earn alimony. 

148 



THE SHELTER TENT 

Area was not its boast. A well equipped 
farm on the Little Missouri is said to consist 
of a due allowance of sunny sky, a pair of 
bob-sleds and a gopher hole. There naturally 
prevail the financial views which demand a 
currency based on pig-iron, short-ribs, hoop- 
poles and wheat screenings. 

No lightning-rod adorned its frowning ped- 
iment, lank and fatiguing reminder of Ben 
Franklin, — thrifty printer, — and his kite, such 
as never was before in air or tree ; also of the 
glib and evanescent vendor whose monopoly 
of all fascinations was only equaled by his 
absolute prostration of all moral attributes. 
That convoluted metallic insufficiency thrust 
not its aluminum barb above the crest of this 
domicile, like a reed shaken by the wind, 
mute witness to each passer of the owner's 
sweet credulity. 

Trifling in weight, as was each segment of 
the Shelter Tent, unappreciable addition to 
individual burden, and willingly borne for the 
increased facility and certainty of bivouac, 
the aggregate relief to the department of 
transportation was like shriving a bad man's 

_ II 149 



THE SHELTER TENT 

conscience of crime or lifting a fear from a 
coward's soul. The reduction of regimental 
trains from thirteen wagons to three was as 
efficient in ultimate results as the withdrawal 
of guards from confederate poultry-coops 
and the obliteration of zouave jackets; possibly- 
more so. 

The Shelter Tent was the after-glow of an 
understudy, so to speak, but it was a potent 
helper in the grand tragedy. It came into 
war annals greeted with a welcome warm as 
that vouchsafed on election night to the miss- 
ing precinct that brings the necessary major- 
ity. This welcome was tendered when use 
brought due appreciation of its value, not 
earlier. Its original introduction was as sen- 
sational as when John Barleycorn comes to 
town, and brings his blizzard with him. Its 
first arrival met with jeers; with hot reviling; 
with barkings imitative of indignant dog, or 
brayings as of disgusted donkey ; with curs- 
ings such as tear the curser's lungs to ragged 
tatters ; with mellowing miracles of profanest 
speech, horizonless trans-continental sentences 
of words hurled endlong, overthwart, each 
150 



THE SHELTER TENT 

word a stab or blister; with mutiny and riot 
ludicrous to recall. But all in vain. Reek- 
ing language, that put immortal souls in 
peril, availed nothing. 

The Shelter Tent came for use, and it 
came to stay. Orders were imperative and 
discipline was supreme. Jeering, barking, 
braying, cursing, rioting were as futile as the 
purr of a Vassar kitten at the advent of a 
long-haired aesthete, wearing an air of discon- 
tent and a coat with efflorescent elbows. 

It was prescribed and issued. The average 
visitor to Washington is welcomed to his na- 
tion's proud capital with loud acclaim by 
the hack fiend and the hotel runner, both 
Afro- American. The Shelter Tent was wel- 
comed with corresponding warmth, as afore- 
said, when its utility began to materialize. 
Out into the pink and pearl of morning 
sunshine, or into a sour, dreary, morning 
drizzle, step from it the tentmates of a 
night's camp. They were proud as the Jer- 
seyman who boasts his descent ' ' from the 
family of Smith-Smiths, connected by a 
syphon." They were free from the proverbial 
151 



THE SHELTER TENT 

weary, next-morning-condition of civil life, for 
sleep profound had knitted up the raveled 
stocking heel of care. Each carried a moiety 
of homestead folded in the knapsack strapped 
to his stalwart form, and stepped but with a 
sublime song of triumph on his lips and in 
his heart. Each carried his own house. He 
also laughed at his own jokes with aloud tenor 
tone. Marvel of more than this marvelous 
facility of home-shifting was our inimitable 
volunteer. He bore constantly also his 
year's wardrobe and his week's provender, 
toothsome (though less tender) as planked 
whitefish from the cold and classic Assini- 
boin. Likewise, his drink, his tools ton- 
sorial, manicurial and dentifric, such as fate 
vouchsafed and regulations permitted. In ad- 
dition he bore his bed, his financial capital 
and surplus, his arsenal of projectiles, his 
weapons of offense, his instruments of torture, 
and his implements of toil. Strength con- 
sidered, no pack-horse carried a weightier 
lading, and yet the soldier was denied the 
dull, dumb creature's exemption from rational 
accountability. 

152 . 



THE SHELTER TENT 

Thus freighted with belligerent melange 
the mobilized veteran marches all day, with 
his thinking bayonet at his side, his logical 
musket on his shoulder, and his profane vo- 
cabulary held in measurable subjection, the 
nominative agreeing with the verb occasion- 
ally by accident. 

On through hot and bitter limestone dust 
that blanches all his cuticle, then reddens 
eyes and nose and mouth with unsanctified 
inflammation. On through floundering quag- 
mires of yellow mud that settles into slush, 
then slumps into slime ; vivid parallel to the 
moral collapse of a white-souled commissary 
warmed by beams of opportunity and trod- 
den by hoofs of temptation. 

On through heat excruciating or cold un- 
endurable; through rain, sleet, hail, — storm's 
dread alternations of discomfort, — all the 
lengthening day, his trousers shrinking to 
knee-pants as he trudges along. On, foot- 
sore and halting, each nerve a roadway for 
pain's burning steps, each bone racked with 
rheumatic twinges, until night brings the limp- 



53 



THE SHELTER TENT 

ing turnpike tourist to a welcome resting- 
place. 

The bivouac then, and full-orbed glory of 
the Shelter Tent! Matchless for adaptation, 
it is pitched as soon as ranks are broken. 
The landscape whitens with swift magic like 
a Monday's clothes-line billowy with confi- 
dential raiment. The tentmates join the 
sundered segments, and with sticks or stalks 
or poles, or, lacking these, with bayonet and 
gun and ramrod, lift the flexile sheet to the 
required angle, and lo ! their dwelling stands 
confessed ; no spectacular monstrosity, but 
compact, cleanly and stylish as a salad 
dressed in oil. 

Hasty, most hasty, also of formalities and 
frills devoid, the varied events which there- 
upon eventuate. The search for wood and 
water, energetic as the pace of reckless engi- 
neer, who goes by the meeting point at a 
mile and a half a minute calling for more 
steam. The ablutions, rich in doleful remi- 
niscence of rare and radiant days at home 
when the brow was wiped with cabbage 
leaves or cotton waste ; vivid with memories 
154 



THE SHELTER TENT 

of the printing-house towel that hangs by the 
door. 

The cooking simple and savory ; the cook 
with a look of far-away Georgia in his face, 
across whose peaceful breast salt waves of 
trouble roll, but from whose humble lips no 
back-talk comes. The mastication, almost 
as irritating as classical music, save as spiced 
with time-honored facetiae wrested from some 
wrecked parthenon ; long-distance jokes that 
would bore easily through an inch plank and 
kill at random. 

Drinking straight and plain from the flat 
but priceless old canteen, out of whose lim- 
pid depths, with a gurgling capacity of one 
miner's inch per second, are drawn exhaust- 
less liquid refreshments that shame the isles 
of Greece, the hills of Spain, the purple 
heaven of Rome, — in dreams thou livest on ! 
Above all, post-prandial exercise of dry dish- 
washery with a chip, exuding bicarbonate of 
turnpike dust; one touch of water makes 
the whole camp grin. 

Then comes, with briefest interlude for rest, 
or recreation, or knocking out spot after spot 
155 



THE SHELTER TENT 

of the decalogue on the sly, swift preparation 
for the few, short hours of nocturnal repose ; 
profound as a policeman with clews to a stab- 
bing mystery; dreamless as some cold-sliced 
fragment of the long ago, sitting passionless 
through chasing, racing ages. Tentmates 
are nervous with the fatigues of march and 
nettlesome as bibulous companions in civil 
life, who quarrel about trifles slight as hair; 
then settle their quarrels over a round of the 
rosy; and finally quarrel afresh as to who 
shall liquidate for the liquor. 

The night may be moonlit, starry, glum as 
a ghoul, dark as black bullocks of Galloway, 
or terrible with thunder-bursts and drenching 
rains and blowing of great guns Valor is an 
indeterminate essence; at times the essence 
will ooze ; much depends on the status ; few 
men are supremely valorous in the dark. 

Plato considered that woman was intended 
to do the same things as man, only not so 
well. It is currently suspected, however, that 
women can fight better than their brothers 
in that grewsome darkest hour which just 
precedes the dawn, when so many attacks 
156 



THE SHELTER TENT 

are planned which mostly fail. Exceptions 
should possibly be noted in favor of the 
emancipated female trotting out of her class ; 
specially against the timid man who has 
been dragged all night over loose stones, at 
the tail of a wild nightmare. 

Sleep comes at last, and the camp sounds 
lull, not startle; peaceful, innocent, harmless 
as the fresh-laid humorist pleading for a little 
more civilization among the higher classes. 
Soporific is the sentry's slow, reluctant Am- 
sterdam tramp, as he strides, bemoiled by the 
long day's detritus, wrapped mostly in the 
wailing winds; also the electric interurban 
symphony of snorings manifold, which care 
not one coreless clam what nationality stands 
guard to-night ; the weird signals of the fond 
melodious mule struggling with anchylosis of 
thoracic articulation, and betimes bursting 
into an effort that saturates seven cubic miles 
of atmosphere with familiar mule music in 
seventeen seconds ; the melancholy squeak of 
a belated sutler's wagon, grinding out its as- 
sent to the maxim that a linch-pin in time 
saves an axle ; the hoot of a discontented owl 
157 



THE SHELTER TENT 

in branches not remote ; the howl of expos- 
tulatory cur in distant farm-yard ; the inter- 
cepted shriek of far off poultry, prey of some 
army prowler who strews the ground with 
severed heads and hot red spurts of gore. 

Soporific is all this medley of celluloid reso- 
nance ; softer than the first symptoms of vel- 
vety resistance on a youth's lip; smoother 
than the etiquette of a square meal at a round- 
table; provocative all of serenest, soundest 
sleep, until joyless reveille shall come, sum- 
moning from iridescent dreams to another 
day of inglorious unromantic toiling — double 
column at half distance and then double dis- 
tance on half rations. 

Through long, drowsy summer afternoons 
comes luscious deshabille of relaxation, born 
of an assured half-week's unthreatened en- 
campment serenity. Then the recherche loung- 
ers in the Shelter Tent, clinking their useless 
double-eagles together with capitalistic non- 
chalance, revel in tutti-frutti visions of ban- 
ished splendors and foresworn delights. Those 
bright single-gold-standard days haunt us still, 
with the persistence of a sixty winter damsel 
158 



THE SHELTER TENT 

in her frosty bloom. The cribbed and cof- 
fined quarters expand into peopled vistas of 
epicurean magnificence, elusive and decep- 
tive as a tax on dinner pails. Therein the 
mirage of gorgeous furnishings alternates or 
mingles with the phantasm of delicate pota- 
bles, with a bewildering miscellaneousness 
that recalls Agassiz's dictum on the impossi- 
bility of reconciling American stratifications. 

Throw physic to the dogs — they need thin- 
ning out anyhow, but preserve yotlr halluci- 
nations ; four generations of gentility are re- 
quired to projduce a boy without freckles. 
P. S- Give the negro a chance! Eighty 
generations barely sufficed to evolve a white 
man capable of inventing the postage stamp. 
Just four hundred years were occupied by the 
whites in conquering the Indians, with the 
powerful aid of r-um, gunpowder and Indian 
agents. 

As we remarked, the furnishings of these 
visions were extremely gorgeous. Cashmere, 
Bokarra and Khivan rugs bespread the 
marqueterie floors. Also, delicate the pota- 
bles. Ragouts, chow-chow, dinde glace, 
159 



THE SHELTER TENT 

truffles, soquille, sorbot, terrapin, sauterne, 
cognac and extra dry cover the beckoning 
tables ; nectar, nectar everywhere and every 
drop imbibable. Imported, perhaps, through 
SignorSp. Frumenti, of Genoa, 

Behold priceless bijoux of Louis Quinze, — 
buhl, Sevres, Limoges, Dalton, and Royal 
Vienna; treasures of ormolu and ivory, and 
Carrara; wonders of faience and Satsuma; 
quaint carvings from Padua, Tokio, Delhi 
and Antwerp, in ebony or sandal or teak or 
immemorial oak! All for ornament rather 
than utility, like the ears of a mule which 
have been stationed too far in front for wings, 
and too high up for fly-scares. Here are 
poems in brass, anthems in eternal bronze, 
pastorals in Dresden, mythologies in the 
grinning idols of Cathay, miracles in Gobe- 
lin and Daubisson; relics of the by-flown, fly- 
blown past, before the great, red dragon of 
Wall street had been hatched and hated. 

There are scimiter and falchion from the 

days of Lionheart, inwrought with golden 

arabesque by fezzed wizards in Teheran. 

There are poniards, it may be, reviving proud, 

1 60 



THE SHELTER TENT 

glad, gladiatorial days, when men were mus- 
cled like the brawny, aged hen. They fought 
with bloody bludgeons long and well ; or with 
sharp rapier carved the lion's liver from his 
agile frame, while smiling beauty munched 
the Roman caramel and saw with tearless lid 
the brave ones sink beneath hard blows more 
deadly than the modern pie. 

Here swing hangings more valued than 
jewels; silk woven in the caliphs' harems; 
yellowing marvels of Chantilly ; glowing glo- 
ries of Corot and Daubigny, Gerome, Vibert, 
Meissonier, Millais or Rembrandt — unequaled 
as to flesh tints ; superior even to most 
chromos. 

Ah, yes ! Roast venison, fried chicken, 
stuffed oysters, broiled lobster, sausage with 
sauerkraut, beefsteak and onions on the half 
shell. The mills of the cooks grind slowly, 
but they grind, even though their recipes be 
less intelligible than the personal recollections 
of a giraffe. 

All these things float and allure and daz- 
zle and tempt in the soaring fancy of the dil- 
ettante militant, who is lifted from a deep 
i6i 



THE SHELTER TENT 

dark Hamlet melancholy to semi-celestial 
altitudes. But a drum-tap or a horse-neigh 
brings him down with a dull thud to the 
cramped coarse environment where he is 
tethered like an uneasy Indian restricted to a 
mental reservation. Blessed is the voluptu- 
ousness of reverie; blessed and cheap as an 
expectant clothier's greeting, while he pauses 
ecstatically for an appropriate smile ; blessed 
and safe as flirting by telephone with a centrip- 
etal divinity at the exchange, sweet-voiced, 
invisible and anonymous ; blessed but unsatis- 
fying as a tariff reform bill stuffed with local 
concessions. 

From roseate fantasy to grim realism is a 
tumble sharp and sudden to the dreamer in 
the Shelter Tent. 

His ormolu and bijoutry consist of a de- 
formed pocket mirror and a foreshortened 
pipe black as bombazine grief. His floor is 
honest old earth, rugless, plankless, naked as 
a marble Venus and cold as New England 
culture. 

His decorated couch of down and carved 
mahogany, ebony inlaid, is superseded by a 
162 




. . . Blessed is the voluptuousness of reverie, blessed and 
cheap as an expectant clothier's greeting, while he pauses ecstat- 
ically for an appropriate sinile (Page 162) 



THE SHELTER TENT 

blanket and six fence-rails — rails quilled with 
keen splinters like the frightful porcupine ; 
blanket harboring fecund colonies of that fra- 
ternal insect whose tentacles are inextricably- 
entangled with every shuddering recollection 
of army vicissitudes ; inescapable, inexpunga- 
ble, yet nameless here forever more. 

His dresser of polished green malachite, 
silver-trimmed, shrinks to a surreptitious 
cracker-box hiding certain confiscated edibles 
for which some adjacent smoke-house holds a 
yawning vacancy^ while Rachel weeps for her 
turkeys and refuses to be comforted because 
they were shot. 

In the said cracker-box, like a jewel in a 
toad's tooth, we may also find all that can 
legitimately represent in fact the figments of 
our hero's appetizing hallucinations, the cus- 
tomary ration of his daily gulp and growl. 
Here is hard, hard bread, stamped B. C, so 
dry that age can not wither it nor bicus- 
pid masticate ; acrid and bellicose pork, pre- 
monitory of thirst and tapeworm, rich in al- 
buminates, but utterly poverty-stricken as 
to savor, odor and social status. Here is 

12 163 



THE SHELTER TENT 

raw beef from the east rump of a most atten- 
uated anatomy, doubtful as the welcome of 
an uninvited visitor ; sufficient unto the soup 
is the toughness thereof, no less. 

The uses of venerable and ubiquitous hard- 
tack were as numerous as they were sug- 
gestive. Its presence in all emergencies was 
one of the mysteries of the eternal law of sup- 
ply and demand, one of the grand consum- 
mations and compensations of the art of war. 
In its natural state it was dry, flinty, tasteless 
and juiceless, but stored as full of nutriment 
as a serenade of musty eggs and flagrant onions 
is stuffed with archaic perfumes. Smashed 
into chiplets with a hammer, moistened to 
pulpiness in cold water, fried in pork fat and 
served hot, it was dubbed " slumgullion." 
Pounded to gritty dust, reduced to thick 
dough with warm water, seasoned with salt 
and pepper and baked in thick cakes, it be- 
came fit ambrosia for the sages of the ages 
and was known as ' ' Son-of-a-gun. ' ' Burned 
to a crisp, boiled in water, and eaten with a 
spoon it was as thoroughly disguised as odor- 



164 



THE SHELTER TENT 

less whisky or smokeless tobacco, in the sou- 
briquet " gum chowder," 

In combination with green apple fricasse, 
chicken stews, fresh pig roasts, and other 
sequestered interludes of commissariat anom- 
alistic, it grew toothsome, ingenious, diversi- 
fied. It was withal as acceptable to the mus- 
cular appetites of voracious young warriors 
as was a drafted man's certificate of exemption 
based on intermittent cramps in the stomach 
and a devout devoted mother-in-law depend- 
ent on him for support. 

Here are the small white beans, anhydrous, 
true angel food, beloved of cherubim, immor- 
talized in song, theme of interminable ro- 
mance, mdst potent, grave and carbo-hydrate 
provender, seductive as a jack-pot, and satis- 
fying as a high-church wedding service to a 
middlings purifier heiress; here, also, the in- 
dispensable coffee, and sugar wherewith it 
shall be confected, twin relics of homeland, 
sole reminder of hearthstones ante bellum. 
Here is rice, nourishing to Buddha and Con- 
fucius, redolent of joss-house and bungalow, 



t65 



THE SHELTER TENT 

chief of Staff of the hfe of languid anthro- 
pophagi. 

Here are desiccated vegetables ; culmina- 
tion of humiliation to nostril and stomach ; a 
cross between counter-irritant and disinfect- 
ant; plausible as an argument for free raw 
material. Likewise concentrated milk, Queen 
Anne style ; acidulated in the thunder-storms 
of centuries ; more mysterious than the doc- 
trine of dynamics to a colored youth gorged 
with clandestine watermelon. Also "rations" 
of soap of a retiring early disposition ; facing 
a condition, not a theory; compost of refuse 
alkaline and oleagenous, but with soaring 
spirit of the army mule stowed in a steamer's 
hold until he soaks the air with sounds of re- 
monstrance, kicks the rivets from the boiler 
and goes aloft with the explosion. 

Moreover, all the frugal condiments and 
seasonings which, like timely words in a hot 
dispute, act chemically and precipitate the 
sediment — all these made lawful by the Arti- 
cles of War and acts thereto amendatory. 
All these this shaky, unassuming cracker- 
box, chief of the snuggery's appointments, 
1 66 



THE SHELTER TENT 

foremost in furnishing the Shelter Tent, doth 
garner and conceal with more than sealing- 
wax fidelity. Upon it rest the empty haver- 
sack, the dry canteen, the waist belt, bayonet 
scabbard, gunsling, and like et cetera of un- 
used accoutrement, terrible to the turbulent 
classes, sharing their owner's earned and rel- 
ished respite. 

These aforesaid articles, together with a 
valuable collection of narrow escapes, consti- 
tuted his tabulated assets, including capital, 
surplus and undivided profits. By reason of 
wealth he would not have been like the camel 
debarred from threading the needle's eye. 
But he was happy, nevertheless ; happy as 
the free laborers who proudly wear untaxed 
overalls woven in foreign parts, and socks 
from the isles of the sea. 

The Shelter Tent was not immortal, at least 
in the concrete. Neither was its occupant, 
howsoever swollen in the pride of his heart 
and other viscera over the sacredness of his 
cause and the splendor of his triumph. If 
immortality is to be achieved for the tent, the 
pen of history or the still small penetrating 
167 



THE SHELTER TENT 

voice of tradition must be detailed for that 
duty. The Bengal tiger must not mew like 
inferior families of the felidae, but here were 
a theme worthy the stanchest bard that 
glooms beneath the shining stars. 

The texture of the Shelter Tent, though 
rivaling a corrugated copper casket as mois- 
ture proof, was far from indestructible. Worn 
to windowed raggedness was its final aspect, 
slashed, punched, shot-holed, and abraded, 
but faithful and useful to the end. Scorched 
also it may be, begrimed and soiled, march- 
stained and battle-singed, linked to its primal 
whiteness only as the vestal virgin of the 
Cuthead Sioux tepee is to her star-eyed Athe- 
nian prototype. 

No matter. The cause in which its beauty 
and strength were expended was richly worth 
this, and all the infinitely more precious cost. 
We rejoice to believe that the events we com- 
memorate were the ushering in of a millennial 
epoch in human history. We stand, as it were, 
wrapped still in obscurities, when a moonless 
night studded with glints of silver wears to- 
ward its end and the horizon of the favored 
1 68 



THE SHELTER TENT 

east flushes with first promise of approaching 
day. Vague outhnes of distant summits mar- 
shal themselves against the brightening azure, 
and soon flashes of crimson and purple play- 
fully chase each other up to the silent zenith. 
Shafts of unutterable splendor begin to shoot 
through all the pulsing atmosphere, thrilling 
awakened nature v/ith reviving life, a harbin- 
ger of coming glory. 

And when earth has been clothed with mag- 
nificence for his royal appearing, the sun him- 
self wheels up from the nether deep, thus 
heralded and attended with all due pomp of 
an unchallenged majesty. His affluent beams 
pour in molten cascades down the revealed 
gorges; they gild and glorify clustered pin- 
nacles ; they awake into sparkling greenness 
the pine-clad slopes, and flame into burning 
scarlet on banks of hidden bloom. Then 
rising higher with the mists of morning still 
enrobing him, while hymning echoes of 
aroused animation fill the air, he proudly, 
grandly marches up the sky — more grandly 
than any monarch who ever trod the world's 
stately palaces and commanded the homage 
169 



THE SHELTER TENT 

of a prostrate throng. Even thus we fondly 
beHeve our dawning will brighten into perfect 
day. 

Even thus the sun of our consummated 
civilization will rise and shine. The hues 
that beautify and not the heat that withers 
will be in his glow. And on dissolving storm 
clouds of a bitter bloody past, he will paint 
the rainbow of an abiding pledge, that gov- 
ernment of the people, for the people, by the 
people shall not perish from the earth. 

The war for the Union, with all its majes- 
tic pageantry, is a thing of the distant past. 
But its events have plucked the shining years 
they gilded, even from this wondrous century, 
and molded them into a beacon for ages yet 
to come . Let veterans rejoice in their honorable 
relation to those events, and cherish with 
pride their sacred recollections. Among 
these recollections is that of the contracted 
habitation, grander in its humility than a pal- 
ace imperial, which domiciled a patriotism 
that was stainless and a heroism that was 
sublime, the useful, modest, unappreciated 
Shelter Tent. It went with the heroes of the 
170 



THE SHELTER TENT 

war for the Union, through all their vivid ex- 
periences, as they marched and camped and 
fought and conquered. They were the he- 
roes of the war, the heroes of the age. 

They marched through deep wildernesses 
and across rough mountain ranges ; through 
stony paths that grilled their ankle bones, 
and freezing creeks that chilled their shoulder 
blades with a glacial emulsion ; through fruit- 
ing farmsteads with broad avenues of maple, 
beech and oak ; through beckoning orchards 
reddened for the clutch of hungry hands. 

They marched through burning sands or 
stifling limedust white as shredded alkali; 
through shoreless mud, black, yellow, red or 
gray, tough, tender, slushy or plastic, but 
always tenacious as Arabic gums. 

They marched through settlements of 
frowning, hostile, alienated countrymen, with 
a dagger in each frown and a stab in every 
stare, toward the embattled hosts of a rebel- 
lious confederacy fiercely armed for the con- 
flict against right and light. They marched 
through ignorance and barbarism and instru- 
ments of cruel bondage; through the snap 
171 



THE SHELTER TENT 

of the lash and the sizz of the branding iron ; 
through writhing iniquities and paths piled 
high with iron chains ; through city streets 
and country roads; through horrid prison 
pens, o'er bloody battle-fields, past pyramids 
of skulls, — up to the shining heights of fame. 

They camped in cottonfield and canebrake ; 
in groves of magnolia and myrtle; in still 
forests where jack-pots were juicy ; in flower- 
ing suburbs where sweet hams blossomed 
in the smoke house and fat turkeys ripened 
in the open air; on the levees of murmur- 
ing rivers and the shores of the tossing sea. 

They camped on plantations and left them 
desolate, where their devouring camp-fires 
and their patriotic appetites wrought piteous 
ruin through wide landscapes of fertile plen- 
teousness. 

They camped in shelter tents of micro- 
cosmic cut and altruistic design; in huts 
composite, whereof logs, brush, mud, boards 
and straw in varying proportions furnish the 
picturesque materials; or, tentless, hutless, 
houseless, lay exposed to visits from alleged 
pearly dew and so-called crystal raindrops, 
172 



THE SHELTER TENT 

winked at all through the long night-watches 
by the shimmering stars. 

They camped in barracks grimed with 
the smoke and smear of previous occupants, 
who departing left behind them sociable 
swarms of their closest friends, ready to ex- 
tend from every crack and crevice an incisive 
welcome; in bastioned forts, constantly ex- 
posed to imminent explosions from burrowing 
enemies, hilarious in undiscoverable tunnels 
far below. They camped with controversial 
comrades loaded on all topics from justifica- 
tion by faith to the cremation of garbage ; 
with comrades wearing periodically the out- 
ward and visible signs of an inward and spir- 
ituous exhilaration, to whom all paths of glory 
lead but to the grass, and whose nocturnal 
slumbers yield a resonance with terror-smiting 
combination of college yell and Indian war- 
whoop. 

They camped unwelcome amid prejudices 
and hatreds inveterate; amid revilings inces- 
sant and intense ; exposed to sneers in which 
the curled lip of beauty impinged against a 
nose sniffing with scorn ; but they camped to 
173 



THE SHELTER TENT 

stay, and they dispensed with welcome, as 
with other comforts and luxuries multifold. 
The swelling chorus of their war songs rent 
the sky, like the long, loud shout of jubilee 
which rises when sundry millions of citizens, 
who have not dined regularly under a revenue 
tariff regime, have tardily come to their 
senses, and voted for three square meals a 
day. 

Their morning drum-beat belted the conti- 
nent from the Atlantic to the Rocky moun- 
tains with one continuous strain of joyous 
reveille. Their evening dress parades were a 
spectacular divertisement, impressing on daily 
thronging thousands enlarged views of the 
power and dignity of invincible America. 

Their bugle calls ring through the air to- 
day awakening in our hearts echoes tuneful 
as the song of triumph on the lips of cheru- 
bim. 

They fought the aged, ancient mildews of a 
hideous past, and fused one whole new, glad, 
golden century of effort and aspiration into a 
short four years of matchless achievement. 
They fought against grievous error for the 
174 



THE SHELTER TENT 

eternal truth, with a snow-bird-on-ice cool- 
ness, a Scotch-Irish firnmness and the zeal of 
a cuckoo congressionalist. 

On land and sea they fought the battles of 
humanity and posterity and an immeasurable 
destiny. They fought giants who out-bun- 
ioned Bunyan, and antedated Dante — veri- 
table giants of the pit, with thorny tongues and 
blazing eyes, welded Apollyon and mega- 
therium. They fought against bayonets and 
bullets ; against grape and shell ; . against 
howitzers and columbiads; against turrets 
and torpedoes; against sabres and carbines 
perversely aimed at their most vunerable 
points; against breast-works and rifle-pits 
bristling with sharpened steel. They fought 
across enfiladed valleys hissing with hot death- 
bolts and red with volcanic wrath ; up rugged 
hillsides crested with flames of hell. 

They overcame armed rebellion and won 
a glorious peace. They conquered those 
who tore down the flag, and they lifted it to 
a peerless exaltation, where earth's admiring 
peoples may draw inspiration from its radiant 
splendor. 

175 



THE SHELTER TENT 

They gained a victory so consummate, so 
complete, so irrevocable, so incontestable, 
that they condoned rebellion, and cordially 
welcomed back the culprits to a share in gov- 
erning the nation they had fought to destroy. 
They conquered slavery with its multiples of 
horror . They conquered ignorance and hatred 
and oppression, and opened all the land to 
the sunbeams of modern enlightenment. 

They conquered navies and armies, gen- 
erals and admirals, seaports and citadels and 
capitals, senates and cabinets and presidents. 

They conquered deathless fame for their 
grand pantheon of heroes, and garlands dewy 
with the freshness of a fadeless love for un- 
named millions who wore the loyal blue. 

They conquered the hearts of generations 
yet to come, to whom their suffering and 
sacrifice have given the priceless heritage of 
noble deeds and an undivided country. 

They conquered states, and built around 
the regenerated nation a rampart of freedom, 
so high, so strong, so steadfast, that it may 
proudly bid defiance to a hostile world. 

Grand as was their heroism, noble as were 
i;6 



THE SHELTER TENT , 

their deeds, the Union soldiers have little 
patience with the rhetoric of war-boasters 
which have caused nearly as much suffering 
throughout the country in recent years as the 
melodies of "After the Ball is Over," or 
"Over the Garden Wall." Some of this 
rhetoric is over-ripe, like the new school of 
fiction, in other cases it pumps beautiful inci- 
dents from a deep capacious imagination, 
painfully void of veracity. But at any rate 
no untoward vauntings proceed from this un- 
considered trifle of that epoch, neglected pro- 
letariat of tabernacles belligerent, the fleered 
and flouted Shelter Tent. 

To historians with the lenses of judgment 
in correct focus, its functions in the splendid 
totality of achievement were by no means un- 
important, although hitherto almost wholly 
unacknowledged. A war-scarred relic of it 
now, even if covering Carlyle's " most shriv- 
eled, wind-dried, dyspeptic, chill-shivering 
individual, a professor of life-weariness" (a 
tramp), would be more thrilling to the eye 
and heart of patriotism than a dozen shining 
granite monuments raised to commemorate 
177 



THE SHELTER TENT 

forgiven but unforgetable rebellion. This is 
the reason for these tears. 

Tattered and blackened but serviceable still, 
type of much else whereon we might perhaps 
with gain philosophize, the humble but price- 
less Shelter Tent was borne to the rendezvous 
by glad warriors returning in triumph, and 
legally mustered out. The war was ended ; 
its work was done. No further seek its usu- 
fruct to discern. Its career was as tame as a 
typewritten love-letter. The receipt of a 
depot quartermaster was its sole and all-suffi- 
cient obituary. 

Vanished from the receding perspective of 
our experience is the Shelter Tent — vanished 
from sight, but precious in memory forever. 
With it went the golden age of the republic ; 
with it went our comradeship of trial and dan- 
ger. After it came the new heaven and new 
earth to our redeemed, regenerated country. 
It has gone. And already, for more than 
half the soldiery of the grand army of the 
Union, it has been replaced by that low, green 
canopy whose curtain never outward swings. 



178 




DRESS PARADE 

IV 

NY scheme of war which 
omits the stately ceremo- 
nial of Dress Parade from 
among its essential ele- 
ments is scandalously un- 
symmetric. The military 
science is of pre-classical 
antiquity, its roots shattering the sarcophagi 
of Cadmus, and Darius, and Ptolemy, and 
Tubal Cain — penetrating even the caves of the 
troglodyte and the gravel-beds of the trilobite 
and the saurians. Ripening ages have at last 
disclosed the imperative demand of a frequent 
assembly and orderly arrangement of troops 
for show and inspection just as the evolution 
of a parson requires the cultivation of orthog- 
raphy, etymology, surplice and orthodoxyo 
13 179 



DRESS PARADE 

The problem as to who put down the re- 
belhon, hitherto more recondite than that of 
the precession of the equinoxes or of the in- 
vention of the kindergarten, and infinitely pro- 
vocative of type-written rhetoric, has at last 
been solved ! It was the boy in blue, his 
mother, and the girl he left behind him. Only 
the first had or could have the right to vote; 
the others had the higher right to be excused 
from voting. But all were in the conflict, 
and each furnished a demonstrable quota of 
heroic endeavor which crystallized into grand 
achievement. The first did the fighting; the 
second did the praying; the third supplied 
the inspiration. 

The first effort of a regiment at observance 
of the tactical symposium termed Dress Pa- 
rade marked an era in its annals which was 
always thereafter recurred to with prickling 
sensations at the roots of the hair and a re- 
volving propensity in the pit of the stomach. 
How it was ever accomplished, endured, and 
survived was a mystery fathomless as the 
craft of a Christianized and deodorized savage. 

The component parts of this approaching 
1 80 



DRESS PARADE 

cosmorama may, with profit, be inspected 
separately. 

The enhsted recruit, only a fortnight re- 
moved from the fresh milk and feather beds 
of home, is already jaundice-smitten, until 
the white of his eye shows quite golden-rod- 
dish and sun-flowery. In his aspect we dis- 
cern the wisdom of one who is seventeen 
years old for the first time, and duly appre- 
ciates the fact. In his liver, quinine is al- 
ready wrestling with calomel for the suprem- 
acy, even as in his soul remembered moral pre- 
cepts are already summoned to mount guard 
against the wiles of sin. He is sugared o'er 
with the pale cast of virtue — stern in his recti- 
tude as the senator who has never betrayed 
a trust. His black eyes duly sparkle in 
aesthetic harmony with his curly, coaly hair, 
as he warbles new-fledged patriotic melodies 
with fervid sincerity. And he views the im- 
minence of experience in human carnage with 
the blind insouciance of a political party that 
is being led through a slaughter-house to an 
open grave. 

If by inscrutable preordination the chev- 



DRESS PARADE 

rons of a corporal or sergeant decorate his 
flapping sleeves, the agonies of his self-con- 
sciousness are unutterably intensified. His 
picturesque, variegated and altogether incom- 
prehensible strut, is positively unique. His 
awkwardness spreads and sprouts and ampli- 
fies and ramifies. To witness his embarrass- 
ment is enough to break the heart of an or- 
phan. His tendency to do the right thing at 
the wrong time and wrong thing at all times 
may be predicted with the precision of an ex- 
act science. 

His responsibilities are enormous; his per- 
plexities are terrible ; his woes are innumer- 
able; he is dejected, afflicted, tormented. 
He is helpless as a lawyer hurling maxims of 
abstract justice ruthlessly in the face of evi- 
dence. He is a non-commissioned officer. 
That is to say : an unquoted quota ; an un- 
enumerated numeral; a non-existent exist- 
ence ; not an officer at all ! 

The lieutenants, with authority varying in- 
versely as the square of their bumptiousness, 
are loud in their pretensions as the howl of a 
defeated candidate who has fallen outside his 
182 



DRESS PARADE 

breastworks. Mrs. Solomon in all her sev- 
eral hundred glories was not elaborated like 
one of these. Invincible Chicago, with the 
biggest and tallest Masonic temple in the 
world, by thunder, is not so proud. The tri- 
umphant statesman who has evolved a barley 
schedule that will put the robber barons of 
western Iowa to open shame, is no more in- 
flated. The congressman who has exposed 
a rival's political armor-plate, honeycombed 
with blowholes, is less exultant. State linked 
to state, in goodly fate, in mart and mint and 
mine ; in rolling plain of golden grain or toss 
of plumy pine — none of these could fabricate 
a more colossal national glorification than 
these imposing subalterns, with ravenous 
tools of butchery girt on their semi-erect 
forms, and fiercely fretful lest the rebellion 
should be suppressed before they could de- 
bouch upon the ensanguined scenery. 

The captain is big with the fate of empire. 
He has dwelt upon the agonizing spectacle 
of his beloved country bleeding at every vein, 
not to mention the carotid and celluloid arte- 
ries, et cetera, until he has accumulated an 
183 



DRESS PARADE 

amount of frenzy which only blood of a high- 
ly oxygenized quality and in most generous 
libations can ever expect to satisfy. The 
candidate with a separate and distinct set of 
views on all crucial questions for each county 
in his district may pass muster on the civil 
arena, but this centurion is vehemently in 
earnest. He has supped on a thousand hor- 
rors — remember the number. 

His eye is one gleaming chrysolite. His 
lips are pink and luminous, dripping phos- 
phorescent formulas in characterizing the as- 
sailants of the flag. His mustache bristles 
with fury like the rays of an arc lamp shoot- 
ing pulsations of glow into unresisting dark- 
ness. His nose sniffs battles from afar and 
threatens direful death in each resounding 
sneeze. His brow is knit into knots of per- 
plexity by chasing tactic combinations which 
canter at will through the vasty thought-clefts 
of his gray matter, foreboding a fatty de- 
generation thereof. His fervid soul thirsts 
for the hour when he shall lead his eager 
men to regions where bounteous crops of 
glory are harvested semi-monthly from valor's 
184 



DRESS PARADE 

fertile fields. No pent up Schenectady con- 
tracts his grand ambition. But his torch is 
illuminative, not strictly conflagrational, after 
all. 

The major and lieutenant-colonel blush 
bright crimson with the burden of unwonted 
dignities. These bucolic ex-potentates from 
outlying precincts, cross-road lawyers, per- 
haps, of the pig-replevin, breachy-steer class, 
are limp supernumeraries in all this busy eb- 
ullition. Marvel not that they mutter un- 
printable ideas as they pass along. Each 
has now a clawing consciousness of his ap- 
proximation to the infinitely little — the cube 
root of nothing. Each has squandered sixty 
dollars, the savings of a lifetime, in the pur- 
chase of the prescribed habiliments. 

Now both find themselves eclipsed by a 
colored sport among the on-lookers, who dis- 
plays a loud check suit and screaming scarlet 
necktie, enameled white shoes with black 
tips, and tall white hat swathed in a broad 
black band. Suppressed and quenched they 
stand, half-daft, with a glimmering recogni- 
tion of their own marvelous inutility ; nerve- 
i85 



DRESS PARADE 

less as the ecclesiastical victim of Christmas 
generosity who has seventeen turkeys, in va- 
rious stages of decomposition, lying on his 
back porch. 

But the colonel ! Great son of Mars, 
swathed in fire and thunder ! Every sublime 
and momentous prerogative of this illustrious 
occasion finds its prescriptive focus in his per- 
son. Lucifer, son of the morning — he will 
rise to the occasion or break a nerve in the 
effort! Lifted by approved, unchallenged 
primacy above all mediocre surroundings, he 
stands wrapped in the rampant amplitude of 
his own perpendicularity. His dignity is 
frigid as the icicles on the fateful blizzard's 
beard in those frosty northwest winters when 
the coyote ceases yelping and the gopher is 
at rest. His serenity can calmly smile at 
Satan's wrath and force a frowning fraud. 
He speaks an imitation West Point idiom with 
the Tippecanoe accent, and his voice rivals 
in resonance the venturous wild-fowl honking 
high in air. His mental endowments have 
never been enervated by book gluttony and 
lesson bibbing. He is no patent process 
i86 



DRESS PARADE 

product of enlightened educational methods. 
He is a symmetrical outgrowth, so accepted 
and recognized by all, including himself , 

Physically and intellectually he looms and 
glooms and towers. On him all glances 
are centered; toward him all thoughts are 
stretched; for him all hearts palpitate. Hec- 
tor arming for the siege of Troy was boy's 
play in comparison. The embryo soldiery 
regard him with pride; admiring citizens 
look on him with poorly concealed reverence. 
He has already trimmed his corns to fit a ma- 
jor-general's shoes. Consequently his shoul- 
ders stiffen with pardonable arrogance; his 
gaze flashes soul-satisfaction in radiant smile- 
ful beams, and the ginger is hot in his mouth. 

These are the ingredients out of which, in 
the alembic of his genius, the adjutant, per- 
spiring like a wedding guest come to cel- 
ebrate the climax of a happy disaster, must 
fuse a Dress Parade. His task is difficult as 
that of teaching a war ship how to swim. 
These are the bristling units, which, when he 
swings his commands around and over them, 
will submit their centripetence to his awe- 
187 



DRESS PARADE 

compelling centrifugence. They are flexible 
as a rubber currency, that can be expanded 
and inflated at will, if handled with care. 
But in the end they will stand approximately 
aligned, ready to skip on light bombastic toe, 
to wheel and whirl, to march or halt, to strike 
or slay. 

Let not the drum major, gaudy as a calico 
cat, and his melodious cohort, be forgotten. 
This cohort may be composed of small boys 
executing Yankee Doodle with variations on 
snare drums and whistling sticks, or of fluffy 
adults, agitating the atmosphere with resonant 
trombone and shrieking piccolo. That is 
largely a matter of natural selection, — that is 
to say, of accident. But it is always obtru- 
sive as a mourning costume expressly designed 
to advertise a quenchless woe and save ex- 
penses generally. And it is always marshaled 
by a fierce brobdingnag mounting a tall bear- 
skin shako, and twirling a nickel-plated besom 
staff with the dapper legerdemain of a sword- 
swallower. 

This so-called "band" is as imperative in the 
saturnalia of Dress Parade as a demijohn in 



DRESS PARADE 

an Iowa closet. In that province water that 
contains only 32,000 microbes to the cubic 
inch has been scientifically approved as a 
beverage — provided just enough brandy is 
added to take the cruelty out of the water. 
Without the band, parade would be a pie- 
bald abstraction, unthinkablest of impossibles. 
With it obstacles vanish and everything bursts 
into buoyant feasibleness and stem-winding 
accuracy, wrapped in the indwelling beatitude 
of conscious grandeur. 

Music hath charms to smooth the savage 
breast. The reason why I can not tell. In 
truth, strange to say, there are many other 
mysteries connected with our mental opera- 
tions and inspirational impulses which are 
equally insoluble. The processes and boun- 
daries of emotion in the soul of a Wyoming 
senator, when her back hair comes down in 
the midst of an eloquent peroration, are in- 
scrutable and unfathomable. The bill for an 
act entitled an act to amend an act is likely 
then to lose its place on the calendar. But 
as a rule, the processes and boundaries of 
thought are immutably conditional. Its for- 
189 



DRESS PARADE 

mulas were petrified in Aristotle, for man, 
with all his amazing progress in science and 
inventions, still abides a little lower than the 
angels, his goods never quite up to sample. 
The intellect pauses at a distance from ulti- 
mate truth, dimly gleaming through the hush 
of a large gloom, and painfully cries for ex- 
ternal help. 

Explosions often result from suddenly in- 
jecting thought into a vacant mind. Some 
syllogisms are fallacious as a decoy water- 
melon stuffed with paris green. The imagin- 
ation may roam uncurbed through infinite 
realms, but reason is horizoned by an adjacent 
pale over which it can neither leap nor soar. 
Beyond this boundary philosophy can not di- 
rect man's tottering steps; further his un- 
blazed path will lead into the vagaries and 
discords and peopled torments of lunacy, un- 
less he permits faith to begin where reason 
ends. When a venerable pundit, formulating 
huge installments of lexicography, assures 
you that he knows it all, be careful where you 
repeat the statement. Tell it not in Gath; 
tell it to the marines — but break it gently, 
190 



DRESS PARADE 

cautiously, or by the beard of the prophet 
you will find small credence. 

Necessary as it has been, dominant as it 
has been, military talent is, after all, one of 
the lower forms of genius. It is not conver- 
sant with the highest or the richest intellect- 
ual pursuits. It may exist to perfection de- 
ficient in profound and liberal thinking, in 
imagination and taste, in the noblest energies 
and inspirations of life. 

Hugo says that at Waterloo each square 
was a volcano attacked by a thunder-cloud ; 
the lava fought with the lightning. Their 
employment demands none of the finer fibers 
of intellect or loftier aspirations of the soul. 
Even the ' ' business ' ' statesman of well rec- 
ognized shrewdness and well advertised piety, 
entrusted with cabinet portfolios on the the- 
ory that public office is a private usufruct, 
is likely to tread the higher realms of intel- 
ligence with more certain footsteps than the 
Wellingtons or Jubal Earlys of bellicose nota- 
bility. And Susan B. Anthony insists to this 
day that the little affair between her younger 
brother Mark Antony and Cleopatra has been 
191 



DRESS PARADE 

grossly exaggerated for base political pur- 
poses. 

Parade differs from review as camp differs 
from campaign. The one is solemnity, the 
other is vivacity. Positive parade, compar- 
ative review, superlative battle, are the three 
degrees of comparison in war's activities. 
They are respectively tableau, melodrama 
and tragedy of systematic warfare. As ivory 
must germinate in the elephant's trunk before 
poker chips can materialize, so parade and 
review must antedate the battle agony. 

Parade discloses the proficiency of a com- 
mand in decorum, alignment and manual of 
arms. Review and inspection test its skill in 
evolution, as well as in equipment, accoutre- 
ment, care of weapons and general efficiency. 
Battle brings out all the qualities which 
drills, parades, reviews and inspections have 
developed or exhibited. During parades 
and reviews the officers come to the front ; in 
battle they go to the rear. This accounts 
for the seeming mystery that so many still 
survive to tell the tale, and to tell it in such 
bewildering variety. 

192 



DRESS PARADE 

Daily Dress Parade being enjoined explic- 
itly by regulations, becomes per force a vested 
right of citizen observers, and the periodic ir- 
ritant of lethargic soldiery. But its first 
dainty freshness, before a state of lethargy 
has supervened and suppurated, threatens the 
maddening frenzy that drowns all sorrow in 
ginger ale. Its occurrence then brings whim- 
sical complications equal to that of sweeten- 
ing a whisky ring with a sugar trust ; mad al- 
ternations of hope, elation, trepidation and 
horror ; a synthesis like few ! 

That two and two make five is a mathe- 
matical preposterosity ; that early experiments 
in Dress Parade should be a success is a mil- 
itary ditto, with extra emphasis on the ante- 
penultimate. Let the heathen rage and the 
plutocrats imagine a vain thing ! Here is a 
seriousness of facetiousness that would dis- 
courage a comedy star in full apogee. 

As the fateful hour draws near, dim pre- 
monitions of coming divertisements rapidly 
multiply. Dress Parade is about to material- 
ize, and the air is electric with expectancy, 
as when Corbett recognizes the belligerence 
193 



DRESS PARADE 

of Persimmons, hires a typewriter, and opens 
hostilities in due form. Indications of the ad- 
vent of an event worthy the deHcate touch of 
Bjornstene Bjeminison's poetic fancy, are 
discerned. Matrons and maidens cluster and 
flutter and twitter athwart the designated 
color line. The matrons are superb, and the 
maidens are about to become historic — they 
are the girls who are to get left behind. 

Accompanying them are their attendant 
male civilians, disgruntled as an oldest son 
who has ceased to be the only child by a 
large majority. They feel like a bunch of 
shop-worn lower-case ciphers just ready to 
be edited into the hell-box. They are keenly 
self-conscious of total eclipse in this martial 
splendor's plethoric incandescence. The rip- 
pling tee-hee of maidenly merriment rasps 
roughly on their ears, provoking wrath in the 
collar. Their cheerfulness matches that of a 
quarter of beef on its journey from dissecting 
table to chill-room. 

Along company streets, redolent with in- 
toxicating fumes of bean soup and loyalty up 
to date, manifest signs of preparation obtrude. 
194 



DRESS PARADE 

According to the accepted congressional code, 
nothing succeeds like success, when one is 
successful in succeeding himself. Even the 
demagogues, who love the people in stump 
speeches at ten dollars per speech, sometimes 
achieve success of that kind. 

A genuine military success requires pains- 
taking method, as these premonitions indi- 
cate. There are glimpses of toilet, glimmers 
of gun barrel, suggestions of ablution, flashes 
of bayonet. There are dashes of shoe-pol- 
ishing and hair-brushery — mad wrestle with a 
Paderewski growth of foliage, here and there. 
A tent fly lifts and the process of creating a 
contemptuous curl of mustache greets the 
penetrating vision. Bright steel rammers 
gleam in the glare of the giddy avenue. Ad- 
vance individuals, nervously premature in 
completed canonicals, appear; then squads, 
groups, platoons — entire companies. Other 
things may be late and worms may chew 
them, but the scythe and hour-glass are al- 
ways on time. So is Dress Parade. 

Companies are aligned and files are count- 
ed off. Sergeants, surcharged with a rude, 

14 195 



DRESS PARADE 

luminous unshaken faith in the republic, tum- 
ble stumblingly into their positions. Corpor- 
als, sensitive as the bulb of nerve fiber at the 
end of a cat's whisker, are given the merry 
hand with a marble heart. 

The captain, already disliked by the ene- 
mies he has made, flings himself to the peril- 
ous front. Ranks are right faced and levant 
longitudinally, at a modified gallopade, to- 
ward the aforementioned color line. Here, 
after miscellaneous entanglements, unequaled 
since cable and trolley emancipated the mule 
from tram car servitude, a measurable co- 
herence is secured. The companies form by 
some sort of incomprehensible intuition of in- 
cidence, on four or five alleged " guides." 
These stand with inverted muskets and quak- 
ing knees, a soft spot in the head and a hot 
spot in the cheek, robust delineations of de- 
spairing imbecility. Their terrors are tre- 
mendous, reminding one of that sweetly 
solemn village hour, when curfew rings and 
small boys hunt their haunts. 

The colonel is now suddenly disclosed. 
He has dropped, unseen, presumably from 
196 



DRESS PARADE 

the propitious heavens, into his allotted sta- 
tion, some forty paces in front of the center. 
At any rate, he is there. And if I had a 
hundred dollars — as I had once, though I may 
never look upon its like again — I would 
wager it all that he wishes he were some- 
where (anywhere) else. 

He is one of those lingering men whose 
minds go off with a wet fuse . Like one dazed , 
he gazes amazed ; and a gaze at him is worth 
the whole cost of admission. He wears a lit- 
tle bunch of whiskers on his chin, and his nose 
has the rising inflection. His warlike air and 
attitude are prophecies of the day when 
Greece shall give Turkey a basting. He 
poses statuesque, with folded arms, head 
aslant, one hip elevated and both legs trem- 
bling. His make-up rivals that of a special 
Chinese envoy with the yellowest of jackets 
and peacockiest of tails. He carries a frown 
over the bridge of his nose that portends 
deep concealment of valuable information as 
to his own consequence, unknown to the world 
at large. That frown, however, is only bor- 
rowed for the occasion ; at heart he is hum- 
197 



DRESS PARADE 

ble as the Chicago aristocrat who has squan- 
dered the price of a car of pork in the purchase 
of a bogus Venus. He poses, with arms folded 
a la Bonaparte over his Napoleonic stomach. 
He poses like the last erect relic of a forest, 
colossal, leafless, lifeless and sublime. He 
looks proud as the weary mechanic greeted 
on his front porch at eve by a shining gal- 
axy of posterity. He has a right to be 
proud; he is the colonel. Bring forth the 
royal diadem and make him a present of it. 
Meanwhile the adjutant is not idle. Far 
otherwise. His duties are complicated as the 
new quadruplex telegraphic system for the 
transmission of string-fiend fakes. He imi- 
tates the gyrations of a cyclone funnel in his 
delirious attempts to frame one geometric tan- 
gent out of ten miscellaneous arcs, with un- 
assimilable radii. His processes resemble a 
lurid, revolving nightmare of St. Valentine's 
day in the morning. He foams and fumes; 
he shouts and signals ; he gesticulates ; he 
genuflects; he perambulates. He pleads for 
correct formation as pallid Maryland corn 
fields plead for rain and fertilizers. His voice 
198 



DRESS PARADE 

is softened by the sweet, feathery fluff on his 
upper lip, but it reaches far. His perplexi- 
ties equal those of the man who went down 
from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among hotel 
runners. But as in the cruel abattoir the fated 
bullock glances at the sticker's cold, callous, 
calculating eye and bows to the inevitable, so 
the willing, though awkward, soldiery yield 
at last to the adjutant's persistent insistence. 
He finally establishes a distant resemblance 
to the shortest space between two given 
markers. The markers introvert their marks 
and fall into desuetude — and the mummery is 
duly inaugurated. 

First the music must sound off. It is of 
the class that has functional relations with 
insomnia. Sad was the unlucky Kansas 
farmer who lost his wife and his best yoke of 
steers, all in the same week. Sad is the be- 
atified spirit of the deceased alderman when 
he finds that the streets of heaven are already 
paved and there can be no rake-off. Sad is 
the fond wife, rummaging her husband's pock- 
ets, when she discovers through her tears that 
the coins are copper. But sadder than any, 
199 



DRESS PARADE 

saddest of all, are they who by direful fortune 
are condemned to the slow torture of listening 
to a moulting military band. Yet it is an in- 
escapable adjunct of Dress Parade, 

Now the rear rank must " open order," a 
strategic maneuver performed with a ludicro- 
terrific multiplication of blunders, appalling 
to the articles of war and fatal to the flintiest 
risibles. Each witness wears the face of one 
who drinketh vinegar unawares. More cal- 
isthenics by the adjutant. More heaving of 
anchors and straining at cables and hoisting 
on beam ends along the phalanx line. For 
the jolly mariners of the prairie, fresh from 
the delights of home, with its pealing bells 
and magic spells and appetizing smells, are 
trying to box the compass of spectacular 
punctilio, with odds dead against them in 
generous installments. Their timidity gives 
one a pain ; their temerity makes one tender 
to the touch of sarcasm. Marvel not that 
our infant industries require protection while 
they are teething. 

Then follow, in startling, swift succession, 
certain decisive events, decisive as the mys- 
200 



DRESS PARADE 

tic, matrimonial rite which makes two mor- 
tals immortal. 

The adjutant faces toward the left flank, 
shoulders his tinseled pinking iron, and sets 
his teeth firmly, almost defiantly. 

He starts forward in an energetic amble, a 
melancholy glitter weltering in his optic, and 
his features bathed in gloom whose darkness 
might be bottled up and sold for Tyrian dye. 

He trots trippingly down to the axis of 
oscillation; wheels suddenly to the right; 
charges madly on the perplexed, expectant 
colonel standing promiscuous as aforesaid ; 
thinks better of it halfway, and halts sud- 
denly 

He whirls entirely around at imminent risk 
of summersaulting. 

He explodes vociferously : ' ' Shltr-r-r 
Hr-r-rms ! Pr-r-rsnt Hr-r-rms ! ' ' 

That is all, but that is enough. The re- 
sult is astonishing as the Rhode Island ten- 
derfoot's first experiment with Montana wrath ; 
but on the whole it is satisfactory. This is a 
free country, even when poverty stands with 
one ear at the telephone waiting for the stately 

20I 



DRESS PARADE 

steppings of an advance agent of prosperity. 
This is a free country, where the Itahan may 
drink wine if he hkes, even though the Nor- 
wegian may prefer alcohol. This is a free 
country, where, in the bright lexicon of sage 
brush statesmanship, there is no such word as 
surrender. This is a free country, where 
once in four years the voters may, if they see 
fit, commit all their political Jonahs to a 
school of whales with broad throats and stout 
stomachs. This is a free country, all the 
way from sterile Vermont to California, land 
of rose-bloom and gold dust, where striped 
candy ripens every month on the woodbine 
and new oranges can be dug before Easter. 
This is a free country, and each soldier on 
his own terms, in his own good time, obeys 
the adjutant's command. In the aggregate, 
every movement in the manual of arms, and 
many more, are attempted ; in the ultimate, 
the entire battalion gets there. 

But the methods and fashions in which nine 

hundred fire-arms are supposititiously tendered 

to all whom it may concern, are of bewildering 

midway plaisance variety. They are void of 

202 



DRESS PARADE 

monotony, like a symposium on the cause 
and cure of panics. The absolute negation 
of simultaneousness is an abiding charm. 
Variety is spice ; better thirty days of Texas 
than a palace in Cathay. When St. Louis 
contributes melted snow of a very dark color 
to swell old Mississippi's limpid tide, a wait- 
ing delta down in the gulf reaps the predesti- 
nated benefit. 

The adjutant, reckless of addled brain tis- 
sue, wrenched spinal marrow and sprained 
leg-ligaments, whirls once more. His heels 
come down with a recoil that would jar the 
rivets from an iron-clad. Patience! noble 
adjutant (and gentle reader), the prancings 
and rotatings approach a terminal. We near 
a period such as that when the last cork has been 
popped at a wine supper and the bill must be 
settled. Grudge not the details that gild the 
gliding moments as they go. He whirls, and, 
with smart salute of naked saber pointed toward 
the deathless stars, confronts his commander. 
It is a moment big with fate. We are re- 
minded of the memorable occasion when 



203 



DRESS PARADE 

Cleopatra clasped the asp and perished dra- 
matically. 

The adjutant confronts the colonel and 
salutes him to the best of his feeble ability. 
Poor human utterance is inadequate at such 
an hour, but he manages to stammer in pro- 
pitiatory tone : " Sir ! the parade is formed ! ' ' 
Then, circling softly to right and rear of the 
rising splendor, he subsides, succumbs, and 
is henceforth lack-lustrous in this spangled 
pageantry. His part has been performed, 
and, whisper it gently to the sighing zephyrs, 
his future function is merely to stand at at- 
tention, like patience on a pedestal, grinning 
at grief. 

For a moment or more the silence is pain- 
fully intense. You can hear hearts beat like 
the ticking of French clocks made in Rotter- 
dam by a Swede. In the recesses of each 
chest, "boots and saddles" is sounded at 
frequent intervals. But outward silence reigns, 
as when a young woman, purple with throb- 
bingtimidity and expectant bashfulness, stands 
before her lover, uncertain whether he will lisp 
his love, or switch off to a side track and 
204 



DRESS PARADE 

discuss the January thaw. Silence is golden 
and toothsome and restful. But it can not 
last forever. It breaks. 

It breaks like a monetary stringency tapped 
with clearing-house certificates. The colonel 
now looms, the crowning pride of all this dis- 
play. Behold, ye gathered multitude of 
non-combatives. Behold and tremble ! His 
sword of sharpness, gift from admiring neigh- 
bors over at Goslin's lane, unsheathed after 
valorous struggles, swings clumsily to a per- 
pendicular. Excalibur's fit prototype, as em- 
blem of authority and fruitful of coming 
slaughters, is revealed. Hear, oh! post-of- 
fice, and give ear, all ye blacksmith shops. 
Great Mars, his son, has sway. Mock him 
not! Madness that way lies, or worse. 
Cheer and the crowd cheers with you ; laugh 
and you laugh in the guard-house. Such 
being the case, nobody cares to laugh. Na- 
poleon called attention to the fact that forty 
centuries were perched on the pyramids to 
umpire one of his fights. More centuries than 
that are here to see and note. 

And the colonel proceeds to make a few 
205 



DRESS PARADE 

remarks. He is in a remarkful mood, but 
his style is dry and sententious. He is not 
one of those authors who swell the bowels of 
their books with empty wind. His remarks 
are meaningful. At home he was chief in 
the rosebud garden of oratory, but it is not 
his cue, on the present occasion, to get into 
a wrestling match with reckless word-trippers. 
He does all the talking himself. Spherical, 
sonorous vocables, the well-conned phrases 
of command, roll out upon the quivering air, 
and smite the multitudinous ear of this bat- 
talion with a startling sense of impotency. 
The multitudinous arm reaches out in nervous 
effort at obedience. But on divergent lines 
the effort doth its energy expend, and the re- 
sults are simply marvelous. Melodramatic 
entanglements and perplexities tread on each 
other's heels, like candidates for patrimony 
at the obsequies of a plutocrat. Errors gro- 
tesque as hippogriffs impinge on errors plaint- 
ive as threnodies in minor E. 

A woman of the impressionist school, who 
cooks in a chafing dish, and prescribes re- 
form ball costumes of high-neck gown, long 
206 



DRESS PARADE 

sleeves and mittens, is very appropriately reg- 
istered from Boston. A school girl in the 
same city wrote in her composition : ' ' The 
boy thinks himself smart because he can wade 
where it is deep, but God made the dry land 
for every living thing, and rested on the sev- 
enth day." No calligraph below the regu- 
lation Boston standard will suffice fully to 
portray the errors and horrors of this Dress 
Parade. 

The evolutions of Darwinism are therefore 
presumably to be intelligently apprehended 
only by the Boston transcendentalist, nourished 
on mackerel salted to the nth. power, and wear- 
ing a baked bean in his vermiform appendix. 
The evolutions and involutions of a maiden 
effort at Dress Parade are incomprehensible as 
the ravings of a salaried jaw-smith in a labor 
strike, who has burst into a profuse state of 
prevarication as the rosy beer-froth mantles 
his sublime cheek. True wisdom is best ex- 
emplified by a turtle withdrawn into his case- 
mate ; even the overestimated he-goat is less 
occult and dignified. 

The popular platform at Vassar is a free coin- 
207 



DRESS PARADE 

age of ice cream, i6 to i , and a currency based 
on unsecured bonds of wedlock that have de- 
faulted their dividends would be unanimously 
spurned. On the western frontier a presenta- 
ble university can be set up with one bottle of 
sulphuric acid, a four-foot telescope and two 
ball bats. In some portions of the south a 
professor who boasts a bicycle kyphosis, 
writes polysyllabic profundities in long-waist- 
ed chirography, and combs his hair like John 
C. Calhoun, is impregnably intrenched. 

Thus do educational standards pulsate and 
palpitate in different sections of our beloved 
country. In China, where the grasshopper 
is a burden and mice are legal tender, it is not 
so. The tests for a civil service examination 
of candidates for concubine to the emperor 
are alike in all the provinces. The Chicago 
board of trade operator, who rises with the 
lark at 8:45 A. M., and five drinks later is 
ready for business, scorns the effeminate chap- 
pie who had his dog's tongue split in order to 
crease his pants. But in Chicago, where 
even the Goddess of Liberty frequently re- 
quires a chaperone after dark, such things 
208 



DRESS PARADE 

will happen in spite of the most stringent po- 
Hce regulations. Besides which they are 
mostly incompetent, irrelevant and immate- 
rial. These evolutions and involutions of 
Dress Parade are to be wrought out by an in- 
cipient soldiery, which three months hence 
will be seeking the hen and ham of glory at 
the red mouth of smoke house and chicken 
coop, lucky also not to be subject to rigid in- 
spection by a state entomologist. Now they 
are intangible as the man in the moon, ineffable 
as the man in the honeymoon. 

Evolutions sometimes go backward. On 
the present occasion there is no restriction — 
everything goes, as the young woman said 
when he drifted slowly out of her life on a 
lumber raft. The evolutions are meritorious 
in design and multifarious in execution ; like- 
wise in the manual of arms. The flabergasted 
novices stand inextricable, like some brittle 
Rosamond tangled in silken skeins to the 
queen's taste. You may bray a crank in the 
mortar, but his wheels will still whirl. When 
the irreclaimable faddist bestrides his foible, 
give him due latitude. When the ambient 
209 



DRESS PARADE 

air is full of ozone and things of that sort, 
look out for thunder-storms. 

When the 'prentice musketeer shoulders 
his arquebus and intimates a design to charge 
bayonet, stand from under promptly. De- 
lays are dangerous. Iscariot with his twelve 
pieces of discredited coin folded in his turban 
figured as a tight-rope dancer on the occa- 
sion of his very last appearance on any stage. 

Tasteless and intangible was the kiss that 
was prematurely discharged in midair and 
never, never came. Even the joys of court- 
ship suffer a temporary eclipse when Johnnie 
is found behind the sofa. Exasperating to a 
like degree is the humorous episode at which 
we dare not laugh, yet can not die. It is al- 
leged that rural homes decorated with chro- 
mographic mottoes are largely responsible for 
the overcrowded state of the paresis wards in 
our asylums. How much of the phenomenal 
hereditary predisposition to recklessness which 
characterized the next generation after the 
war was attributable to the enforced re- 
pression of risibles at Dress Parade may 
never be definitely ascertained. This much 
2IO 



DRESS PARADE 

we know : When the safety valve is strapped 
down, boilers are in danger. She who kin- 
dles fire with gasoline, and penetrates the un- 
discovered country by that illuminated route, 
leaves few to pity and none to praise. But 
the victim of an over-fermentation of merri- 
ment has sympathizers numerous as the fash- 
ions of grandfather's hat. 

When the young recruit, twenty per cent, 
pork, thirty per cent, beans, forty per cent, 
patriotism and ten per cent, soldier, stands 
up to be exhibited, and a score of his best 
girls, each compounded in five equal parts of 
beauty and brightness, grace, gush and gig- 
gle, gaze in ravenous, enraptured solicitude 
on the dreadful performance, with their steel 
walls of restraint riveted tightly around them, 
— well, the consequences are to be unquestion- 
ably counted in as a part of the general havoc 
of war. 

Meantime Dress Parade goes on. The 
evolutions and involutions continue to revolve, 
until the tired recruits are threatened with 
serious affection in the yellow pine district of 
the lumber region. The manual of arms 

15 211 



DRESS PARADE 

goes through all its ascensions and declen- 
sions, its conjugations and calamities. He 
who would follow all its ramifications must 
have a head on him like the learned pig. 
Arms are presented, shouldered, ordered, 
right-shifted, trailed and held aport. Bayo- 
nets are charged and fixed and clattered until 
their gleam threatens to scream. No such 
confusion has prevailed since Lot's wife was 
transformed into chloride of sodium. One 
third of the commands are unintelligible ; an- 
other third are incapable of execution ac- 
cording to tactics; no two companies have 
been drilled alike; no three consecutive sol- 
diers perform the same antic at the same 
time. No movement is attempted that does 
not yield mixtures of grief, drollery and ex- 
asperation, sufficing for the most miscella- 
neous requirement. Meritorious attributes 
sometimes crop out in unexpected places — 
many a man conceals a bruised and bleeding 
heart beneath a porous plaster. Humor and 
drollery develop. Still the routine goes on, 
nominally monotonous, but in reality miracu- 
lously diversified. 

212 



# ^J' 



r 



■.■^^>y^®"3m} 




, . .' No two companies have been drilled alike; no three 
consecutive soldiers perform the same antic at the same time 
(Page 212) 



DRESS PARADE 

Arms are trailed, right-shouldered, pre- 
sented, ordered; bayonets are fixed, unfixed, 
or transfixed ; rammers are sprung and imag- 
inary cartridges are subjected to supposititious 
mastication. Over and over again, in be- 
wildering diversity of succession, are the or- 
ders inaccurately given and confusedly exe- 
cuted, until the colonel's martial rage is 
seemingly appeased. Man wants but little 
here below, while woman wants many things 
and wants them all marked down. Both 
man and woman ought to find in this notable 
performance a maximum of quantum suf. 

The perfunctory reading of orders ; the re- 
ports of first sergeants ; the grand spectacular 
advance of the officers, might each inspire a 
modern society poem, printed on linen paper 
with ink worth a dollar a pound. The final 
dismissal of parade ; the departure of compa- 
nies to their respective quarters — these are 
mere routine. They are essential, perhaps, 
but dull, tasteless, flameless as unleavened 
sanctimony. It is vanity and vexation to be 
born with a silver spoon in one's mouth, if 
there is nothing in the spoon. 
213 



DRESS PARADE 

Throughout its bellicose career, when oc- 
casion permits, the regiment renews its daily 
practice of this imposing observance. Leaf 
by leaf the roses fall ; day by day the snare- 
drums call. But practice makes perfect. 
Within a twelvemonth after muster-in the 
alert, alive and agile volunteers will have be- 
come so facile in their exercise that every 
motion is pivotal and simultaneous — a thou- 
sand with a single joint who hear and move 
as one. The veteran reverts to his plebe 
camp experiences even as the aged grandsire 
recalls the sorrowful coffee and sad biscuit of 
early matrimonial days. The halo of ro- 
mance encircles them still ! 

Every man to his trade, cries the bigamous 
cobbler, with shell-bark resonance, and tena- 
ciously sticks to his last. Every crank to 
his whim, every fool to his folly, says com- 
mon-sense, with some slight conscientious 
twinges. When uncle Silas comes from 
South Squam, and, for the first time, confronts 
the dizzy delights of a gay metropolis, there 
is danger in the air. Look not upon Monte 
Carlo when it is red ; shun humbugs as you 
214 



DRESS PARADE 

would shun a land title based on love and af- 
fection. The events we commemorate hap- 
pened, to all intents and purposes, on a dif- 
ferent planet from that now occupying our 
orbit. 

If ever a Dress Parade of hobbies, a review 
of sham or an inspection of human nature 
could be displayed, there are grounds for a 
suspicion that serious complications would 
ensue. They would equal the ferment from 
an accidental mixture of gin, gingerbread and 
sauerkraut, prime standard products of the 
early Knickerbockers and first exports from 
New Amsterdam. Bulwer says : "Beware 
of the poor devil who is always railing at 
coaches and four; book him as a man to be 
bribed." 

More than thirty years ago, for the last 
time in the volunteer army of the Union, the 
welcome call, " Parade is dismissed," rang 
along the attenuated line of some lingering 
battalion, and it dissolved into history. Pa- 
rades, marches and battles were finished. 
But victory was assured ; its results are em- 



215 



DRESS PARADE 

bedded and embalmed in the nation's splen- 
did destiny. 

It is an inspiring thought that this destiny 
opens broad and bright before us, and we 
need only be faithful to our trust to ensure a 
realization of the fondest dreams of the he- 
roes, saints and martyrs of the olden time. 
Unrolled around us lies a continent, clothed 
with verdure as with a garment, heavy with 
its stores of hoarded wealth, all reserved for 
us in virgin purity and freshness since earth's 
creation morn. Our race is inheritor of the 
best blood, the best energies, the best princi- 
ples, the best talent, that have illumined and 
vivified the human family through all its glo- 
rious past. 

Here, then, if we and our descendants are 
true, in this enlarged and beautified Eden, are 
to be evolved all the grand possibilities of 
humanity. Here increasing prosperity is to 
bring increased virtue; increasing intelli- 
gence, increased power; increasing culture, 
increased happiness; increasing freedom, in- 
creased nobility. Here the swarming mill- 
ions yet to be, molded by free institutions 
216 



DRESS PARADE 

and universal education into a refined and 
homogeneous race, multiplying their material 
comforts by now undreamed-of physical ap- 
pliances, adorning their homes until each 
family shall dwell, self-centered, in a world of 
beauty as in a shining sphere of crystal, and 
warming in the sunshine of God's presence 
as they grow in moral stature nearer to His 
throne, — here the coming millions will ad- 
vance to the millennial fruition promised as 
the goal of earthly hope and effort. 



217 




THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 
V 

HERE were no giants in 
those days that tried men's 
souls and stored their bod- 
ies with unpensionable 
ailments. Giants, mostly- 
apocryphal, fought battles 
single-handed in periods 
of antiquity now remote and malodorous. 
The last samples perished some centuries 
ago, painfully regretted. Their spears were 
rust, their clubs were dust, their souls were 
with the saints (we trust) long prior to 1861. 
The men who put down the slaveholders' 
rebellion were mostly boys. It is estimated 
that the soldiers of the Union averaged only 
nineteen years old when the roar of that first 
cannon broke on Sumter's walls and echoed 
218 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

down the aisles of time, besides shattering a 
large invoice of miscellaneous crockery. No 
such burden ever before fell on the youth of 
any era ; no such imperial manhood was ever 
before developed in a single generation. 
Greece molded countless heroes of her own, 
and has thrust her hand into every mass of 
mortal clay that has been fashioned into beauty 
or power or glory since the days of the demi- 
gods. But Greece can boast no more perfect 
heroism than that which made our golden age 
illustrious, conspicuous, lurid as a trolley car 
in a thunder-storm, for all ensuing ages. 

The recruit of i86i was of the human vari- 
ous species so dear to the articulating frenzy 
of Mr. Venus. He was intensely human yet 
various as life's multiform phases in this re- 
splendent hemisphere. He was a farm boy, 
perhaps, fresh from the white sheets, and fried 
chicken, and sweet cream, and angel cake of 
his ancestral roof, with no experience more 
thrilling than that of the local press and pul- 
pit arising as the voice of one man to cele- 
brate the production of some abnormal cu- 
cumber; he went to town to see the parade, 
219 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

and, vowing he would ne'er enlist, enlisted. 
He was a store clerk, skilled in pounds, pints 
and prints, with a thin top dressing of Latin, 
and a silvery Minnehaha gush of gaiety in 
every motion. He was a student with columns 
of logarithms in his head and a theodolite in 
his stomach ; conscientious as a juryman 
sworn to bring in a verdict according to the 
law and the lawyers' speeches. He was a 
mechanic, swart and grim, with steps so ener- 
gized with mobility that when he walked the 
pavements rolled and rocked beneath him like 
waves of the sea. 

There were howling swells in that period, 
but he was not of them. Reared in the bland 
atmosphere of plowshares and pruning-hooks, 
he had no taste for the big orgies in which 
they reveled. He was not a fast young 
man, nor did the fast young men, as a rule, 
make good soldiers, or soldiers at all. Their 
furore was not the inspiring sentiment of a 
war for liberty. Their recklessness was not 
bravery ; their wild natures accepted no yoke 
of discipline. These fast young men traveled 
rapidly, because their road was all down 
220 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

grade. They were the same then as now, the 
same yesterday, to-day and next century — 
worthless and fruitless, first, last and forever. 
Each successive five years brings a new gen- 
eration of them, as the novices of five years 
previous, worn out and burned out by dissi- 
pation, disappear over the divide and enter 
that sulphurous enclosure, that stockade of 
horrors, where the fires of torment are fed 
with their festering tissues, and the towers of 
tophet re-echo the shrieks of their tortured 
souls. These howling swells, these fast 
young men, these debauched, debased and 
dissolute youths, these devotees of the world, 
the flesh and the flowing bowl, had no part 
or lot in the sacrifices of that heroic era. 

The average boy of '6i was of pure metal 
and exalted worth. The glint of his eye re- 
flected the stars of the flag, and a prophecy 
of Appomattox was written on his brow. 
Into the white chambers of his soul only such 
things could enter as affiliated with the 
guests already cherished there — his mother, 
his sister, his sweetheart and his God. 

In the alembic of stern discipline and re- 

221 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

lentless strife he and his comrades were fused 
into that homogeneous, glorious host who, 
on five hundred crimson fields from Wilson's 
Creek to Bentonville, at a salary of thirteen 
munificent dollars a month in depreciated 
greenbacks, put the love of life's joys behind 
them and, throwing their souls into their bay- 
onets, rushed to the flaming front, careless of 
wounds or death if only they might help to 
final victory. 

What we call 1861 was not a year. It was 
history changing front; a cycle dying, an era 
born. Ignorance was still shaking himself 
by the hand pompously, after the manner of 
his species, and saying to himself: "Go to! 
I am lord of the bailiwick as aforetime; I 
will bind and stack and thresh as of hoariest 
yore." But knowledge was looming; in- 
formation was coming to the front with a sea- 
faring hitch to his trousers as one who had 
traveled far; even the professional reformer, 
who talks dialectics while his wife toils six- 
teen hours a day to nourish his soaring soul, 
found auditors. But knowledge did not loom 
to an adequate altitude or permeate to a suf- 
222 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

ficient degree of prevalence. Else had no 
Southron dared promise himself to whip the 
people who had invented and built up and 
managed the great material enterprises of the 
nation — or desired to whip them. Ignorance 
fluttered around recklessly until he singed his 
ostentatious whiskers in the flames of the pit; 
yea, more, — until he was blistered to the eye- 
brows with scorchings of the everlasting bon- 
fire. Where ignorance is bliss, politics degen- 
erates into irredeemable idiocy and ineffable 
slush ; the campaign of mutual delusion goes 
on and on, the whole day long, the whole 
summer through, the whole year round; the 
oracle is an imitation statesman, whose head 
was cast in a heroic mold, but the jelly 
didn't ' ' jellify ; " his clientage is the adult male 
population of an infested village, whose howl- 
ing need is a dog-killery. Under such lead- 
ership popular illumination is a slothful, dis- 
couraging process. The modest, uncultivated 
mule is liable at times to reverse the accepted 
formula, and put his best foot backward. 
The half-savage conductors of an orthodox 



223 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

Afro-American cremation in Texas typify an 
equally marked social retrogression. 

It is, as a rule, futile to preach predestina- 
tion to people who are not in the four hun- 
dred, but a general movement for the dissem- 
ination of knowledge is effective in tearing 
away ignorance, as the rich soil of Iowa is 
ripped up the back with a gang plow. With a 
due allowance of school-houses in the south 
forty years ago, the slaveholders' rebellion 
would have been impossible, just as in the 
prosperous, progressive American republic 
of to-day with ten million depositors in her 
banks and twenty million children in her 
schools, a successful assault on intelligence 
and prosperity would be impossible. Igno- 
rance, as we have stated, fluttered recklessly 
near the scorchings of the bonfire. Where- 
upon knowledge achieved a popularity unpre- 
cedented since our first ancestress risked for 
its acquisition the fairest prospects of her 
distant and inconceivably multitudinous pos- 
terity. 

During ten years next succeeding the war, 
its loyal survivors were habitually called, half 
224 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

in affection, half in honor: " Our Boys in 
Blue." Even those who had hated their 
cause and mourned their success conceded 
the fitness of a sobriquet which exalted their 
uniform to the dignity of a moral attribute, 
and tinged their classification with the hue of 
their trousers. It was Plato who said : ' ' The 
brave shall be crowned. He shall wed the 
fair. He shall be honored at the sacrifice and 
the banquet." This was the era of the wed- 
ding, the barbecue, the "present arrns" to a 
phalanx of angels — as was eminently fitting. 

The women of '6i were not the wailing 
watchers and tearful lint-scrapers of a too cur- 
rent tradition. They were soulful, heart- 
strong heroines, the swordless soldiers of the 
Union. Lint-scraping and bandage winding 
were minor episodes. Their work was many 
sided as a prism, with every angle reflecting 
a radiant intensity. And all the ladders of 
grace that led from bloodiest battle-fields 
straight to the bending heavens, were built 
up, round by round, from the piety and de- 
votion of intrepid womanhood. 

The Boys in Blue were rapidly and happily 
i6 225 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

and most appropriately mated to the noble 
girls they left behind them. One of Napo- 
leon's marshals exclaimed when dying: " I 
have dreamed a beautiful dream." To the 
Boy in Blue, suffused with blushes as the 
compliments rained on him, both war and 
peace were chrysanthemum visions, soft, rosy 
and spicy. The compliments were well earned 
and welcome ; welcome and wholesome as a 
thoughtful surgeon's timely prescription in the 
cold drizzle of a night march, when he prof- 
fered his flask with : " Gentlemen, you need a 
tonic ; leave a drop for me ! ' ' Even the 
chastened copperhead hissed no expostula- 
tion ; he simply folded his Nessus shirt around 
him and lay down in baffled schemes, his only 
punishment being an enforced allegiance to 
the proudest flag and grandest country the 
world has ever seen. 

When ten years more had lent distinction 
and distance to receding perspectives, the title 
changed to "Our Gallant Veterans." The 
asperity of opposition had softened ; the re- 
spect of friends had deepened. There was 
tenderness in the accent which pronounced 
226 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

the words and in the sentiment which inspired 
them. All recognized that wherever a sur- 
viving soldier stood, there was a sentinel of 
liberty. The Veterans came to the front in 
every sphere of activity, with the nerve that 
stakes a royal flush against a marble syna- 
gogue. They performed their full share of 
e very-day work, and they rose to high posi- 
tions in the state. They generously divided 
the honors, even turning out early in the morn- 
ing to give the devil his dews. This was com- 
paratively easy, as the exposure of the crime 
of 1873 had not then upset nearly everything, • 
nor had the new woman come, constantly pro- 
voking controversies with the antagonistic sex. 
The Veterans moved on the savage border- 
land and conquered it. They transferred 
sandy deserts into radiant farmsteads, fes- 
tooned with clematis and enameled with 
gladiolus. Hated by men with stinging con- 
sciences or none, they retaliated never — or 
hardly ever. Though poor they were not 
discouraged ; sockless, they were not ashamed. 
When bedizzened with frontier fringes, even 
Doctor Mary Walker with all her trousers 
227 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

was not arrayed like one of them. Many of 
them went south, where they were greeted 
with black looks from white men and white 
smiles from black men ; a few remained there 
and outgrew both. Gleefully as the beef- 
steak sings on the gridiron, the ring of their 
axes sounded through northern forests ; their 
hearts and heads were solid to the innermost 
core, like the stumps they left behind them. 
Broad prairies in the we^t blossomed with 
their chinchilla moustaches and their alfalfa 
whiskers. They opened mines, subdued vast 
wildernesses, tunneled mountains for railways 
and syphoned them for irrigation. They 
equipoised some of that surplus gravity which 
has at times caused the country to tip up on 
its eastern edge. They did not wear tooth- 
pick shoes, lemon-colored or otherwise; these 
they left to the weak and vicious elements of 
an effete civilization. 

With the army shoe, the army bean, the 
army mule, and the unfailing army nerve, they 
marched on to new and noble conquests. 
They organized commonwealths; founded 
cities; edited newspapers; captured judge- 
228 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

ships, governorships, senatorships, the presi- 
dency, administering the multiform functions 
to their own eternal honor and with benefit to 
all. Ofificeholding had charms for them re- 
condite as the link between beans and blue- 
stockings, inscrutible as the dynamics of a 
cucumber which has concealed its aggressive- 
ness until 3 a. m. Should the demon of 
filibuster raise his crest from opposition 
benches in any one of a score of legislative 
assemblies, you might readily count a full 
quorum of them, each busily tying knots 
with his tongue which no agility of his teeth 
could undo, each kindly instructing novices 
how to work a tennis racket or advising ex- 
perts how to extract honey from Celtic 
ground-apples. Their arguments might be 
loose in the joints like a plaisance camel, but 
they unerringly arrived at an available con- 
clusion. The feeble but sage members of a 
swell chappie clique might pronounce them 
insufferable as to style, but they went on cap- 
turing and conquering things by instinctive 
predilection and force of habit. They ex- 
perienced little exhilaration from the efferves- 
229 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

ctiice of hired rapture and purchased adula- 
tion ; their financial views habitually had the 
ring of two metals ; their accomplishments 
might stop short of the mandolin and 
their scholarship shy at an ablative absolute. 
But they reached the goal, on the average, 
and ' ' Get there Eli ! " was their practical 
rendition of the motto "Excelsior." 

Of seven presidents elected since the close 
of the war, six were ex-soldiers. Minnesota 
points with pride to her nine soldier gover- 
nors. The Veterans quietly gathered in the 
voluntary and involuntary honors of their ad- 
miring countrymen, while the chief function 
of their traducers seems to have been to crop 
thistles, grow ears and bray. 

The surviving Veterans of the Union army 
were neither drones in the busy hive of na- 
tional development, nor a burden on the be- 
nevolence of their fellow-citizens. Ninety- 
five per cent, of them made a success in 
the civil battles of life — doing men's part 
honorably, industriously, heroically in the 
work of the world. Only five per cent, were 
failures, less than three per cent, ever be- 
230 




The veterans quietly gathered in the voluntary and involuntary 
honors . ' . '. ; ; . One state points luiih j^ride to her nine soldier gov- 
ernors, and of seven presidents elected since the close of the war, 
six were ex-soldiers (Page 230) 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

came wholly dependent on public charity for 
support. 

An appalling phalanx of apparitions at 
times menaced the peace of nervous taxpayers 
over prospective drafts on their plethoric re- 
sources. A cat may kick at a king. Men 
gifted with wind and lungs, men with well- 
shaved voice and neatly-modulated nose, 
have proclaimed a shuddering dread of future 
difficulty in preparing for wholesale care of 
the thriftless ex-soldier. But those unso- 
phisticated suspects went on ruthlessly, reck- 
lessly, paying their own full share of the tax- 
es and manifestly bent on relentlessly taking 
care of themselves. The identical persons 
who in the honey-dew days of the ' ' Boys in 
Blue" had gaily floated in geysers of taffy, 
constantly sprayed with cascades of gush, 
were, ten years later, the objects of fathom- 
less solicitude on the part of contemporaries 
who feared that universal pauperism would 
engulf them. Vain was the dread; bootless 
the solicitude. In the aggregate, the dis- 
charged Veterans contributed in taxes more 
than the sum total of their army pay, and by 
231 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

their own productive labor added more to the 
wealth of the nation than the entire cost of 
the war. And at any time within the last 
thirty years there might have been found in 
all our prisons a larger per capita proportion 
of former church dignitaries and bank oflEicers 
than of honorably discharged soldiers of the 
Union. The typical Veteran was neither a 
tramp nor a bummer. He was a thrifty, 
self-respecting, patriotic citizen. At the 
plow, the anvil, the lathe; on the engine, 
the mail car, the ship; in the lumbering 
camp, the harvest field, the counting-room, 
the factory; at the bar, on the bench, in the 
pulpit — everywhere in spheres of useful, suc- 
cessful effort, he wrought faithfully, ardently, 
triumphantly. 

Even where the Veterans never went, their 
influence penetrated and vivified and fructi- 
fied. Their aromatic, anaesthetic codfish, 
their mackerel stuffed with savor and salinity, 
have carried freedom's tidings to Borneo's 
wilds. A Grand Army post annually observes 
memorial day in distant Honolulu. Ireland 
and Poland, lanced spots of a huge European 
232 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

suppuration, have felt the pulsations of our 
victory. And on the dim frontiers of far-off 
Argentina, sweet girl graduates of Minneso- 
ta's normal schools, daughters of Veterans, 
turbaned with haloes and aproned with the 
flag, are unfolding the mysteries of orthogra- 
phy, chirography, cube roots, and syllogisms, 
to rejoicing grandchildren of authentic Pata- 
gonian cannibals. Whether as a Daniel come 
to judgment or a Jonah come to grief, the 
' ' Gallant Veteran ' ' adorned his era-7-an era 
that is past. 

The third decade brought peculiar revela- 
tions and some characteristic iconoclasms, 
wrought by the most gothic of vandals known 
to human kind. The deeds of the Boy 
in Blue and the Gallant Veteran have been 
told and retold in verses so musical that 
they might almost be punched with holes and 
performed on self-playing pianos, automatic- 
ally, as it were. But the terms are obsolete, 
and the current period has brought its special 
designation, tremulous as a phrase from De 
Senectute, and redolent of lean and slippered 
Pantaloon — "The Old Soldier." It came 
233 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

in the days when colored cartoons were grow- 
ing on the country like a bad habit, and it 
came to stay. Whether applied in honor 
and tenderness, or in derision and mockery, 
who can tell? 

This epithet tells a truth, though perhaps 
emanating from indecent exposure of intellect 
in a brain whose convolutions are more crooked 
than the ram's horn that triturated the de- 
fenses of Jericho. It tells a truth, though 
more cruel than that sweeping massacre when 
the patriarch Cain came within one of slay- 
ing all the youth in Asia, or than the edict 
which collared and cuffed a dilapidated Coxey 
in the shadow of the capitol's proud dome. 

Whether we like it or not, it has elements 
of permanence, — that euphony which is the 
kernel of fact ; that levity which is the soul 
of wit ; that pointedness which is the test of 
endurance. It has manifestly come to abide. 
When the lady lacteal artist lactealizes the 
sober, circumspect cow, the product is harm- 
less as the process and participants ; no spir- 
ituous or vinous venom from that nourishing 
fountain e'er exudes. When the lion eats a 
234 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

lamb the lamb becomes lion ; when the lamb 
eats a lion the results can be better imagined 
than depicted. When the commonweal tour- 
ist falls aweary, he wins consolation from a 
rehearsal of " Bunion's Pilgrim's Progress, or 
the Trials of a Trail," and rises refreshed. 

When the ex-soldier feels rheumatic twinges 
clutching at his nerves like an eagle's beak, 
resistance were vain as kicking at a thunder- 
bolt in crocheted slippers. He is still vigor- 
ous, considering all that he has gone through 
— and all that has gone through him ! But 
he is not invulnerable ; some of his elasticity 
is as deceptive as the hospitality of an alleged 
park dotted all over with warnings to keep off 
the grass. He may profitably display that 
charity which covers a multitude of sarcasms, 
and serenely accept the inevitable as a com- 
panion piece to tariff reduction, civil-service 
reform, lectures on advanced domesticity by 
the emancipated female whose family lives on 
canned goods, and other copyrighted jokes. 
Yes; the Boys in Blue have donned the 
Gray. They are no longer young; they will 



235 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

never be younger; they are "Old Soldiers" 
now, and will be to the end. 

Meanwhile they exist as an active element 
in society, none the less interested and observ- 
ant because of their phenomenal experience, 
A subtle, half-forgotten aroma of school-boy 
Latin permeates the back parlors of their 
minds, but the grand beacon-lights of world 
history flush all the front windows with a ruddy 
glow. They lag, superfluous it may be, like 
lingering aborigines who are chewing salt 
pork, sandwiched with bread of idleness, out 
in the bad lands ; but they will not linger 
long. The ribald glee of the society sharp, 
boasting an aesthetic eclat acquired at Christ- 
mas free lunches and other luxurious func- 
tions, probes to no sore spots. Honesty is 
probably the best policy when the amount 
involved is small, but it is the best principle, 
always and everywhere. Those who practice 
it look upon themselves with the pleased as- 
tonishment of a man who has made a verified 
prediction. Those who ignore it look upon 
themselves with a cold diagonal Japanese stare 
of non-recognition — while still the wonder 
236 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

grows that average-sized consciences can stand 
so many blows. 

The Old Soldier can afford to be honest 
and admit the hideous imputation of adoles- 
cence. Yes! Eleven hundred times, yes. It 
were safer as well as honester to admit, than 
to join issue and challenge proof. Should he 
deny it, any unprejudiced tribunal would sum- 
marily rule out all evidence for the defense 
and refuse to note an exception. Only two 
generations lie between the shirt-sleeves of 
the money-making ancestor and the patched 
pants of his impoverished great-grand-son; 
only two generations ago, Astor was chasing 
the festive mink and Vanderbilt was sculling 
the shapeless scow. Hence life is too short 
to be frittered away in vain regrets and use- 
less denials. The Boys in Blue have all grown 
Gray. 

The sensations of a dizzy man when the 
floor rises up around him, while east and 
west come together with a crash, are an anti- 
dote to his precedent fairest visions of the 
heavenly. There are said to be tenors 
before whose singing the larks are struck 
237 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

dumb and take to the woods, while the whole 
landscape melts into one golden chalice of 
liquid melody. 

But time, the enchantress, with all her bene- 
factions, all her favor, all her consideration, 
has wrought no miracle of perpetual youth 
for the Boys in Blue or the gallant Veterans. 
The free coinage of silver has gone on among 
their plenteous locks, whether auburn, black 
or brown, unmindful of the edict of 1873. 
Dyes are futile ; pigments are in vain ; bleaches 
are superfluous. The process goes on; sure, 
steady, inevitable, inexorable. 

The Old Soldier pleads guilty to those 
who take toll of yellow meal and neglect the 
weightier matters of the law. But he does 
not yet apologize for persistent existence. 
They who resent his longevity as an eco- 
nomic affront, contradicting all mortuary 
tables, whist formulas and crap combinations, 
must abide the result, even though it create 
an ice gorge in Ohio politics. He braves 
the feeble wrath of the political dilettante, 
with a daily surplus of brains (fried in 
crumbs), principally solicitous to provide 
238 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

mermaids with divided skirts and get dried 
insects on the free list. He fully indorses 
Horace Greeley's theory that snobs are the 
poorest breed of horned cattle on earth. He 
does not even excuse himself to the frosty 
orators of the alumni platform, educated be- 
yond the limits of their intellect, who assume 
to stand high in the councils of their creator, 
but neglected to bring their souls with them 
when they condescended to be born. 

The Rhode Island colonists defiantly pro- 
claimed, in the midst of a witch burning era, 
"There are no witches on this earth, nor 
devils — excepting Massachusetts ministers, 
and such as they," Men with paunches and 
other signs of wealth, men with white neck- 
gear and other signs of piety, men with bino- 
cles and other signs of culture, men with un- 
classifiable crania and faces unfit for publica- 
tion, have snubbed and jeered the Old Sol- 
dier, but he still survives. An unsullied 
Americanism vindicates itself always against 
the world. When the royal United States 
Berkshire came in competition with the pau- 
per hog of foreign climes, his victory was de- 

17 239 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

cisive ; he now reigns triumphant, even in 
Westphalia, the home of ham ! 

Stock exchange piousness, on affection- 
ate terms with itself, and clear, calm, intro- 
spective natures, stuffed with binomial theo- 
rems, may sneer at compassion and gratitude; 
are not small potatoes the raw material of a 
dignity that is born of starch? The county 
seat molder of public opinion who can man- 
age to keep three jumps ahead of the sheriff, 
and pay for his boilerplate editorial C. O. D., 
vies with the New York newspaper syndicate 
backed by indefinite millions of Chicago beef 
money, in delicate sarcasm. Go to the mule, 
thou dizzard, and learn of him ! From that 
speechless, untranslatable functionary valuable 
information may be extracted wholly novel to 
thy groveling consciousness; amongst much 
else surely this, that gratefulness is mate to 
saintliness. Even in the late James brothers' 
section of darkest America, this is accepted or- 
thodoxism. The statesman with pickerel 
brow and muscalonge integument may join 
the ecclesiastical mignonette and journalistic 
geranium in proclaiming threatened peril to 
240 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

the republic from the fulfillment of a moiety 
of her despairing pledge to provide for the 
disabled. The oblique expostulations of pro- 
fessed friends are less endurable than the 
open malice of enemies. The one-story man 
with a gravel roof has no conception of sky- 
parlors. Let the untranslatable functionary 
rise up and bray responding echoes in fit, 
sufficient answer. 

They jest at scars who never sniffed salt- 
petre. They mock at wounds who never 
confronted a foe more tangible than a Baconian 
cryptogam. But the Old Soldier has learned 
to contemplate with philosophic tolerance the 
weak and wicked sides of human nature — the 
Christian science side, the Tammany tiger 
side, for example. Bluffs were unknown in 
his heartsome, wholesome youth; nor were 
jockeys subsidized to give their backers tips. 
Undreamed-of was the soft, seductive game 
of flim-flam. No one then suggested a law 
for the protection of innocent, elderly con- 
gressmen from the wiles of the seminary miss. 
The Veteran can pity those who hate him, 
and defy the gurgling giggle of his scorners 
241 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

— in the words of Sam Johnson, "he 
remembers who kicked him last." He 
who smote with the sword of the Lord and 
of Abraham safely ignores an effervescence 
of mouth-vapor. Let those who surrendered 
to the idols of the uncircumcised and now 
seek to expunge their records, find merciful 
oblivion if they can. He tenders no apolo- 
gies for his motives and invokes no forgetful- 
ness of his deeds. Like the backwoods 
preacher entangled in an unmanageable sen- 
tence, he may have lost his nominative case, 
but he is bound for the kingdom of heaven. 

The Old Soldier, entrenched in his philos- 
ophy as in a bastioned citadel, rejoices in a 
redeemed country strong enough to regard 
with forbearance the foibles of quondam foes. 
The men who looked bravely into his eyes 
across the frowning ramparts of Vicksburg, or 
who, fed on raw corn and persimmons, fluttered 
their heroic rags for a year between him and 
beckoning Richmond, only ten miles distant, 
have been welcomed, as with "sweet, reluc- 
tant, amorous delay" they returned to enjoy 
the privileges and even to accept the honors 
242 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

of the rich citizenship he fought to restore to 
them. He sees them squeezing pure olive oil 
and genuine creamery butter out of honest 
old cottonseed. He puts his own traditional 
pride of supremacy in the matter of basswood 
hams and white oak nutmegs resolutely be- 
hind him, and hails them proudly as right 
worthy fellow-yankees and brethren beloved. 
Whatever, if anything, the present may with- 
hold of universal consent to the sacredness of 
his cause or the completeness of his triumph, 
he exultantly leaves to time, to God and to 
history. 

The Old Soldier claims no undue meed of 
praise. Standing in the limpid incandes- 
cence of a momentous epoch, his pardon- 
able pride has only degenerated into boast- 
fulness on rare and radiant village greens, 
where self-delusion finds a fertile soil fenced 
with applauding auditors. It was his fortune 
to have contributed to the preservation of the 
Union, the emancipation of the slave and the 
regeneration of the country. But save and 
except as aforesaid, he makes no pretense of 



243 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

having done it all. He had mighty and Al- 
mighty help. 

Sometimes the credit for emancipation is 
ascribed to the heroic agitators, who, before 
the appeal to projectiles, had long demanded 
unconditional abolition. It is error to award 
the palm of this splendid consummation to 
any class of men. Slavery perished because 
its death-doom had been sounded on the ce- 
lestial chimes; because the nineteenth cen- 
tury had come ; because the flying engine and 
the speaking wire had come; because the 
steel pen and the postage-stamp had come; 
because the free school, the newspaper and 
the open Bible had come; because Wilber- 
force, and Garrison, and Harriet Stowe had 
come; because Lincoln, and Seward, and 
Stanton had come ; because Grant, and Sher- 
man, and Sheridan had come; because two 
million gallant boys in blue had come ; be- 
cause the great and terrible day of the Lord 
had come, and not all the powers of evil could 
longer buttress and bulwark the crowning in- 
iquity of the universe. Give to all the potent 
factors a full measure of the award. But let 
244 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

the rapture of self-eulogy never eclipse vital 
historic truth. Slavery succumbed, not more 
to military force than to the eternal verities. 
And rebellion surrendered not alone to Grant 
and his legions, but also to the loyal men and 
women who stood behind them, and to the 
churches and colleges, the mills and mines 
and storehouses, the homes and herds and 
harvests of the mighty North. 

They fell, who lifted up a hand 
And bade the sun in heaven stand! 
They smote and fell, who set the bars 
Against the progress of the stars. 
And stayed the march of motherland! 

They stood, who saw the future come 
On through the fight's delirium! 
They smote and stood, who held the hope 
Of nations on that slippery slope 
Amid the cheers of Christendom. 

In adversity's hard school the Old Soldier 
learned transcendent lessons of human broth- 
erhood such as no other school could have 
taught him, dilute the tincture, water the 
stock, or inflate the currency of educational 
methods how we may. Escaping from cruel 
245 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

prison pens, where there was no one to love 
nor to caress, and with no light to direct 
but that sun of the sleepless, melancholy star, 
his hand reached out into the darkness 
searching for a guide ; it was grasped by an-» 
other hand, warm, loyal and true; the hand 
of a man and a brother; a black hand indeed, 
but it was all the same in the dark. 

He learned respect for authority and order, 
scorning the malcontents, who, hornet-like, 
always stand sting-end uppermost, stinging 
their friends to show their independence, 
their enemies to show their impartiality, and 
each other to keep in practice; unwholesome 
whether in conjunction or apogee; a bundle 
of tinder and rockets, on a raft of smoke- 
storm, with sparks wildly flying; each a flask 
for brittleness, whether decipherable into a 
nursing bottle or a sulphuric carboy. He 
learned to value his country as more precious 
for his personal sacrifice, stimulating his just 
demand that America shall henceforth be 
reserved for such as are or wish to be Ameri- 
cans ; for those to whom her institutions are a 
birthright or those who bring due apprecia- 
246 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

tion of her blessings ; shaking from her skirts 
the imported vermin of the slums; spurning 
back from her shores the redhanded apostles 
of anarchy, who dream of freedom in the 
death of law, and search for thrift in robbery 
and violence. 

The Old Soldier is something of a politi- 
cian. He loves to help save the country 
again and again, on every convenient occa- 
sion. Soon after each and every quadren- 
nial interchange of governmental figure-heads, 
the whole population is prepared to admit 
that we have narrowly escaped a vast hem- 
ispherical catastrophe. Even when the elec- 
tion has only been carried by a constitutional 
majority of three — two Winchesters and a 
shot-gun — the escape is just as grateful. 
For the campaign torch may then be extin- 
guished; the paroxysm of hysterics illumi- 
nated by an aurora borealis vex and vaunt no 
more. The shout of the torch-bearer, scream- 
ing himself into grippe and pneumonia, is 
quenched. The heeler and the howler are 
alike silent — they have folded their tepees 
like Arabs and fled in wild dismay. The 
247 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

candidate no longer inhales the whiff of 
whisky sours or clasps hands chiefly notable 
as rich feeding ground for microbes. The 
precinct chairman, reveling in his labor of 
lucre, bow-legged but full of enthusiasm, 
has subsided. The able editor, a man of ice 
and iron, carrying around a head heavily 
weighted with unpublished matter, can gaze 
down the flamboyant vista of his victorious 
career and take a needed rest. 

The orator, whose seductive notes were 
rainbows melting into song, can now sadly 
meditate on blind-stagger luck in poli- 
tics ; the senatorial aspirant can proceed to 
gather in votes on a rising market; the, tri- 
umphant boss can accept from his Chicago 
admirers the finest banquet their slaughter- 
houses yield ; the average honest partisan can 
rejoice in the temporary submergence of that 
specifically, super-righteous element, the 
" saving five per cent," of voters, who usu- 
ally keep the country from going to destruc- 
tion, by serenely, sweetly, holding the bal- 
ance of power. 

When the alleged campaign of lungs, lar- 
248 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

ceny and lunacy is thus ended, the wind- 
weavers and phrase-coiners are dumb, and 
the country has escaped from the desperate 
situation of one whose incurable disease Is at- 
tacked by an Infallible remedy. Herr Most, 
with a string of transatlantic gutterals foam- 
ing from his lips, and Herr Altgeld brandish- 
ing his gold-clause lease before our blinking 
eyes, enter into the very sinew and substance 
of our recurring nightmares. We scorn them, 
and our scorn bites — usually. But this time 
It falls harmless as one of Chauncey Depew's 
periodical four-track, block-signal presiden- 
tial booms. The nightmare raves and rav- 
ages until the ballots come down like an ava- 
lanche and smother It — ballots called "snow- 
flakes" in the old chestnut, but now each six 
inches wide, thirty-two Inches long and many- 
hued that wayfarers need not err. 

We accept the result with a smile that is 
childlike and grand. The country is safe — 
again. In fact we begin to suspect that the 
nightmare was, after all, the fond, familiar 
flea-bite of antiquity. At any rate, the coun- 
try is safe again — safe as a fire risk on crude 
249 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

asbestos stored In a vacant lot. And then the 
resonance of Wyoming's new, bewitching and 
lady-like female electoral vote splits fame's 
brazen trumpet into hair-pins carrying the as- 
surance that henceforth presidents are liable 
to be nominated by intuition and elected by 
instinct. Then, also, the men who helped to 
save it once if not oftener — before, and are 
still willing diffidently to confess the fact, re- 
joice with others at the latest victory. We 
have recently been told in a magazine article, 
written by the meditative son of a confederate 
sire, that the rebellion was put down chiefly 
by its own pestiferous, irredeemable paper 
currency. This startling political warning 
may well be subjected to searching cross-ex- 
amination. The Old Soldier of the Union 
neither affirms nor denies. He is content with 
his limited measure of pardonable pride in 
some of the features of that old, old story of 
daring and devotion and sacrifice in the days 
when the country was saved once before — in 
the days of the deeds that shaped up a coun- 
try worth saving again, worthy of being saved 

250 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

again and again, as many times as need be, 
by the generations yet to come. 

The Old Soldier is satisfied to have borne 
an honorable, though inconspicuous, part on 
the winning side and the right side of a con- 
test fraught with such tremendous conse- 
quences. In the vast sum total of effort, 
achievement and sacrifice, no man other than 
the favored and gifted two or three ultimate 
leaders did more than an infinitesimal share. 
The shares of glory are proportionally minute 
— even our U. S. colonial dame cuts but a 
sorry figure in contrast with the daughter of 
seventeen revolutions from Venezuela. Thus 
the up-to-date woman is coldly antedated ! 
The Old Soldier claims no undue meed of 
praise. 

From corps commander to the man who 
bore a musket, individuals earned but a frag- 
mentary fraction of the full plentitude of 
honor. Comrades of the flag were they, and 
all are equal now. He invites suspicion and 
ridicule who struts to the front, while his hat- 
band plays a sweet symphonic tribute to his 
valor. No genuine Old Soldier attempts to 
251 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

Weylerize his record. An occasional harm- 
less effervescence of exaggeration is chari- 
tably overlooked, but all are comrades and 
equals. They only rank in priority of en- 
comium who went up in chariots of fire, 
through sulphurous battle-clouds, to advanced 
lines in the battalions of the blessed. 

Together they marched and camped and 
fought and conquered. Dying, they sealed 
their sacrifice with martyrdom. Surviving, 
they proved their willingness to die, and 
lived to clasp with joy the sweetness of re- 
stored affection, pride and hope. 

They died amid the battle clangors of five 
hundred crimson fields ; they died in hospi- 
tals where nerves were highways for the steps 
of fever's scorching feet; they died in dis- 
mal prison pens, unshorn, unsheltered, hun- 
gering, thirsting, desolate, despairing; they 
died, four hundred thousand of them died, in 
the bloom of their beautiful youth, that the 
slave might be unshackled, freedom apoth- 
eosized, the nation saved. 

They lived — a million of them live to-day. 
They lived to do men's work in building up 
252 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

the land their valor sanctified. They lived 
to witness development and prosperity beyond 
the stretches of their fondest dream. They 
lived to see a prospective disintegration of the 
too solid south, her trusted leaders stand- 
ing with reluctant feet where politics and 
finance meet. They lived to see South Car- 
olina, cradle of secession, thoroughly reformed 
by an application of bi-chloride of Tillman- 
ism for the drink habit, and the entire South- 
ern social system thoroughly rejuvenated by 
an invasion of graceful young Sophomores 
from Vassar, each with a cogent thesis on the 
remedy for punctured tires. They have lived 
to see the sun of Appomattox flood the planet 
with its warming, brightening beams. They 
have lived to know that the war's immortal 
hero, touring around the earth, penetrated no 
regions so remote that his fame had not pre- 
ceded him, and visited no populations too igno- 
rant to comprehend the significance of his 
victories. They have lived to read that in 
mud-hovels in the deepest heart of Africa, in 
thatched huts on the banks of the Ganges, in 
cabins buried among Siberian snows, portraits 
253 



THE BOYS IN BLUE GROWN GRAY 

of Lincoln are found, venerated by benighted 
peoples as the saint of a new dispensation. 
They have lived to see the horizon strewn 
with wrecks of stricken dynasties — crowns 
crumbling, thrones trembling, the whole filmy 
remainder of hoary despotisms shriveling like 
a gossamer scroll. They have lived to see 
the flag of our republic floating resplendent 
in the zenith, as a token that the Union lives, 
and that liberty reigneth forever. 



THE END. 



254 



The cover design of this volume is repro- 
duced from a drawling in Edxvin Forbes' 
Army Sketch Book, with the kind permission 
of the publishers, Messrs. Fords, Howard & 
Hulbert. 



i8 



James Whitcomb Riley's Stories of the 

Humorist, Edgar Wilson Nye 

(Bill Nye) 

BY 

RussEL M. Seeds 



257 



JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY'S STORIES OF THE 

HUMORIST, EDGAR WILSON NYE 

(BILL NYE) 



(Russel M. Seeds' Interview with James IVbitcomb Riley in the 
Indianapolis Newt.) 

One morning James Whitcomb Riley dug up from 
the pile of recent books Bill Nje's post-humorous work, 
"A Guest at the Ludlow and Other Stories." It was 
not the first time he had seen it. Indeed,- he has given 
more care and attention to the bringing out of this last 
work of his dead friend than he usually does to the 
mechanical and business details of his own books, and 
he had read and reread everything in it before it was 
given to the public. Yet he spent nearly an hour in 
loving examination of the volume, reading again with 
thorough enjoyment a number of the sketches. 

The friendship that existed between the poet and 
the gentle humorist was one of those remarkable bonds 
of sympathy that few men are fortunate enough to find 
in life, and those who do seldom find it more than 
once. The same keen sense of the ridiculous, the 
same shyness of humor in conversation, the same gen- 
tleness of spirit and the same tender anxiety to lighten 
each other's cares, welded this bond of sympathy that 
lasted to the death of the one and will remain through 
life a happy memory to the other. 

" These stories are more like him than any he ever 

259 



RILEY'S STORIES OF '"BILL NYE" 

published while alive," said Mr. Rilej, sauntering over 
to the desk of the literary editor and exhibiting the 
volume. Thej breathe the spirit of Nje in almost 
every line. Just listen to this." And in his inimitable 
way he read an extract from the volume. 

" The quaintness and whimsicality of Mr. Nye's 
humor," said Mr. Riley, as he closed the little volume 
gently and held it in his lap, " was the notable thing 
about him. It was unaccountable upon any particular 
theorj'. It just seemed natural for his mind to work 
at that gait. He recognized the matter-of-fact view 
others took of the general propositions of life, and 
sympathized with it, but he did so with a native ten- 
dency to surprise and astound that ordinary state of 
mind and vision. He could say a ridiculous thing or 
perpetuate a ridiculous act with a face like a Sphinx, 
knowing full well that those who saw or heard would 
look to his face for some confirmation of their suspicion- 
that it was time to laugh. They had to make up their 
minds about it unaided by him, however, for they never 
found any trace of levity in his countenance. As he 
would say, he did his laughing ' elsewhere.' 

" One day in midwinter the train stopped at a way 
station in the West, and he had five minutes to wait. 
Mr. Nye's roving eye had discovered that the plush- 
leather pillows of the sofa in the smoking compartment 
of the car we were riding in were unattached. Without 
a word he picked up the leather cylinders and placed 
one under each arm, with the tassels to the front. He 
was an invalid in looks as well as in strength, and 
when he appeared upon the platform thus equipped the 
astounded natives watched him with silent, sympathetic 
curiosity as he strode up and down, apparently seizing 
260 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE' 



the opportunity for a little much-needed exercise. The 
rest of us had to hide to keep from exploding, but he 
was utterly oblivious to the stares and comments until 
he returned to the car. No explanation was vouchsafed, 
and the primitive inhabitants of that town are proba- 




EXERCISING AT THE RAILWAY STA- 
TION. 

bly still wondering what horrible malady compelled 
that invalid to wear those outlandish cushions. 

"A favorite amusement with him was the reading of 
imaginary signs at the stations when we were travel- 
ing. When the train would stop and that hush would 
come over the car, with half the people wondering 
261 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE'* 

who their fellow-passengers were and the other half 
viewing the little grocery on the one side, or the sta- 
tion, restaurant or bill-board on the other, Mr. Nye 
would break forth and begin to read the bill-board 
aloud : ' Soda water, crackers — highest prices paid for 
hides and tallow — also ice cream, golden syrup and 
feathers.' The passengers across the aisle would perk 
their ears, then rise and come, craning their necks, to 
find the words he was reading from the bill-board, or 
finally some old fellow would come up to the seat and 
declare that he could not find where it said that. In a 
quiet way this would tickle Nye beyond measure — 
awaj' down in the deeps of his sad-pathetic spirit. 

" His conferences with the train boys have often 
nearly given me convulsions. When the boy handed 
him a book Nye would ask with great interest 
what it was about, and listen patiently to all the boy 
knew of its contents. ' Let's see it,' and he would open 
the book and read aloud, in a monotonous sing-song, 
a lot of purest nonsense drawn from his imagination. 
It was done so seriously that the boy's eyes would begin 
to hang out as the reading went on. Finally Nye 
would shut the book up with a snap, losing the place, 
and hand it back to the boy with a puzzled air, as if 
he did not understand why the young man had lied so 
about its contents. We could find that boy for an hour 
afterwards searching diligently the pages of that book 
to find where that stuff was printed. 

" Njx's method of ' stringing ' people," said Mr. Riley, 
"was entertaining always, but never cruel and never 
earned him the resentment of the people who were the 
victims of it. One of the most artistic cases of this 
sort I recall was the way he got revenge on a Chicago 
262 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE" 

tailor. The tailor did not know him when he went to 
order his suit, but he did know from his style that he 
was from the country. He told Mr. Nye just what 
kind of a suit he wanted, selected the cloth and meas- 
ured him with the assurance that this was a beautiful 
fast color and would wear like iron. It should be put 
up handsomely. When Nye paid him for the suit and 
asked that it be shipped to a way station in Iowa the 
tailor was sure that he was right in the mental meas- 
urement he had taken of his customer. The suit ar- 
rived, neatly lined with farmer's satin and Nye put it 
on. Day by day its bright blue grew lighter and 
lighter, until, when we arrived in Chicago, six weeks 
later, it was a kind of a dingy dun color. Nye re- 
marked as the train pulled in that his firsl duty in that 
city would be to go around and interview that mer- 
chant-liar ; and we went. He shambled back to the 
rear end of the shop, where he found the man who 
sold him the garments. He shook hands with him 
cordially, said he was glad to renew the pleasant 
acquaintance and asked if he knew what had caused 
the suit to change its beautiful color, at the same time 
turning up the lapel of the coat and showing the strik- 
ing contrast between the original and the present color 
of the cloth. 

" ' Why, man ! ' cried the tailor, bristling with defen- 
sive indignation, ' what in the world have you been 
doing to that suit ? ' 

"'Well,' replied Nye, in a tone of the meekest apol- 
ogy, 'you did not warn me and I suppose it was my 
fault and I ought to have known better. But since you 
insist, I'll tell j'ou frankly what I did : I put it on 
and wore it right out in the sun ! ' 
263 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE" 

"The tailor saw the point and insisted upon making 
another suit out of cloth that was really good and 
would not accept pay for it. 

" Mr. Nye's sudden comments made in the midst of 
a lecture were often the means of bringing the house 




CONVICTING THE TAILOR. 



to its feet. He knew better than anybody his lack of 
physical ability to fill a large hall with his voice and 
he strained every nerve to meet it. Any extraordinary 
commotion in the hall discomposed him and he would 
wait until it subsided. It was not a pleasant thing for 
him to hear a voice from the back of the hall calling 
'louder.' Upon such occasions he had a habit of turn- 
ing the laugh upon his tormentor by elevating his 
264 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE" 

voice, looking puzzled and asking what that remark 
was he had just heard. 

" I remember one occasion in particular when we had 
a remarkably large hall, crowded to the walls. The 
entrance was at the further end of the hall, opposite 
the platform. Mr. Nye, as usual, opened the evening, 
very fearful of his ability to reach the whole throng. 
He had barely got started when the doors opened and 
a great fellow about six feet and two inches tall entered 
with two ladies and immediately fell into an alterca- 
cation with an usher about his seats. Nye paused and 
the altercation could be heard all over the house, with 
this fellow arraigning the usher in a very loud voice. 
Finally it died down a bit and Nye resumed, but he 
was interrupted by the man, who held up his hand and 
cried, ' Hold on, there, I have paid for seats for this 
lecture and propose to hear all of it.' 

" Nye replied with great composure : ' In view of the 
great size of the hall,' said he, ' I was about to con- 
gratulate the audience upon the foresight of the man- 
agers in securing a speaker for each end.' 

" The house howled with delight and the applause 
beat back upon the obstreperous interrupter with such 
force that it drove him from the hall. After this epi- 
sode Nye was always a great favorite in that city and 
was recalled there many times. 

" Mr. Nye was a fatalist — not a complaining one, but 
a fatalist no less, and with considerable occasion. He 
was pursued by a spirit of the perverse. Unexpected, 
trying things were always happening that seemed es- 
pecially in line to test his patience. Indeed, I was 
sometimes jealous of him, for these things seemed to 



265 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE 



occur with greater force and persistence to him than 
to me. 

" I had frequently remarked upon the persistent re- 
currence of the number thirteen with me during one 
of our trips in the South, but this was one supersti- 




tion at which Nye scoffed. He told me that at the 
next hotel we struck if I objected to being ' incarcer- 
ated ' in No. 13 he would risk it once. And not long 
after I found myself registered for that fatal pumber ; 
wherepon I promptly informed Mr. Nye that I should 
hold him to his promise. I remember I had a handful 
of mail I was very anxious to see, but I would not 
266 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE" 

open it until I had got another room. Nje declared 
he wanted to first size up the room he had been as- 
signed to, and went on down the hall with the land- 
lord. He soon returned with the remark that he could 
not lose much and walked into the thirteen room and 
set his grip down, returning to where I waited in the 
hall outside. He had not more than got out of the 
door when the heavy transom fell with a crash. He 
was convinced that that transom had been waiting for 
him for years. 

" Mr. Nye was an invalid, but again, as it would 
seem, it was the perversity of fate that made the pub- 
lic unwilling to believe that a humorist could ever be 
ill or have any reasonable excuse for breaking an en- 
gagement. He never got the benefit Of the excuses 
made for others when they failed to appear or to write 
according to expectation. 

" One awful winter he was compelled to quit work 
in the middle of the season here and go South for his 
health and to escape the rigors of this climate. That 
was the winter that quit right in the middle of its 
business here and struck for the South, where they 
had the coldest weather they had ever known prior to 
Mr. Nye's advent. And there, though he was nearly 
dead, his syndicate letters had to go on just the same ; 
and in fancy I can see that heroic, almost dying man 
on the flat of his back, writing laboriously upon a 
scratch-pad, with the wind blowing the rag carpet on 
the floor up in billows. He suffered all the hardship 
of rigorous winter in summer quarters. 

"And while thus ill word reached him of the sudden 
death of his father in Wisconsin, so far away that even 
if he had been able to make the journey it would have 
267 



RILEY'S STORIES OF 'BILL NYE" 

been a physical impossibility for him to have reached 
his father's house before the burial. It was a peculi- 
arly hard blow to him, for they had been friends and 
chums, as well as father and son. Yet by the time the 
news reached him his father had been buried. 

" To the last this perverse fate denied to him and 
his wife that one pleasure that married couples usually 
enjoy if they have nothing else — a wedding journey. 
He was very poor to begin with, but of a sanguine 
temperament, and at the time of his marriage good- 
naturedly informed his bride fully of his circumstan- 
ces. She, a brave woman and worthy partner, prob- 
ably foresaw the force of the man and his coming 
recognition in time ; at any rate she had great faith in 
him, and very cheerfully accepted the situation. Their 
wedding journey, denied them in the beginning by 
their poverty, was deferred from one cause and an- 
other for years, so long that they came to refer to it as 
to be taken upon the marriage of their eldest child, 
when the two couples could take the journey together. 

" But Nye was yet an invalid, and one year when 
California had been prescribed for him, we had made 
a line of engagements toward the Pacific slope after 
the regular season. It had been arranged that Mrs. 
Nye was to meet us in Kansas City and the trip from 
there to the coast was to be the long-deferred wedding 
journey. He had built great hopes upon this prospect, 
and in the pleasure of anticipation had devised a dozen 
little schemes for the surprise and entertainment of 
his wife, who had already left their home, on Staten 
Island, to join us. She had left their four children in 
care of her niece, a very worthy young woman, and 



268 



RILEY'S STORIES OF "BILL NYE" 

was somewhere on her waj to Kansas City when we 
arrived there. 

" Nye had expected to find her there, but instead he 
was confronted with a telegram from his Stalen Island 
physician stating that all four of the children had been 
stricken with scarlet fever. Through the influence of 
the physician, who was a great friend of Nye, they had 
not been removed to the hospital, as the regulations 
required, but had been permitted to remain at home, 
with the house quarantined. During the next few 
hours prior to Mrs. Nye's arrival, and in all agony of 
suspense and apprehension, Mr. Nye busied himself 
with canceling all further lecture dates, and when 
Mrs. Nye finally arrived he broke to her the painful 
news of their children's illness, and took the next train 
back East, not knowing if their little ones would be 
alive to greet them when they came. 

" A^rriving home after that terrible journej', they 
found the children so ill that they could not be told of 
the arrival of the father and mother ; and Nye, with 
his heart breaking, sat downstairs and wrote to the 
children he was not permitted to see in their rooms 
above, long and happy letters from California, telling 
them what jolly lovely times their mother and father 
were having in the land of flowers, 

"And, therefore," said Mr. Riley, in conclusion, 
again fondly referring to the volume, " I am especially 
rejoiced to see my old comrade at his best in this last 
published utterance, and the book itself so befittingly 
presented — so handsome and so dignified a volume, 
that I am certain a sight of it could but have been 
highly gratifying to the gentle humorist himself." 

RussEL M. Seeds. 
269 



By EDGAR WILSON NYE 
[bill NYE] 



Go, little booklet, go !- 
Bearing an honored 



/&-<^^^^^V^ 



A volume of humor- 
ous stories and sketch- 
es, with twenty-one 
full page and twelve 
smaller designs, the 
latter by the author. 

By arrangement with 
Mrs. Edgar W. Nye, 
The Bowen-MerrUl Co. 
announce a volume of 
humorous stories by 
Bill Nye (Edgar Wil- 
son Nye) , prepared for 
publication by him 
during the last months 
of his life, entitled 

"A GlEST AT THE 
LUDLOW" 



And Othee Stoeies. 

It is printed, bound 
and illustrated in a 
style surpassing any- 
thing heretofore is- 
sued of Mr. Nye's in 
book form, and con- 
taining the famous hu- 
morist's best and most 
finished work. Twenty- 
eight stories and num- 
erous illustrations, in- 
cluding the author's introduction in fac-simile. It is the hand- 
somest copyrighted book published this season for the price, $1.25, 
sent postpaid to any address on receipt of the price. 

THE BOWEN-MERRILL CO., Publishers, Indianapolis and Kansas City 




ILLINOIS STATE 
HISTORICAL LIBRARY 



i